Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Spam Musubi on the Mall: A slightly belated inauguration report
It's been a busy few days, to say the least.
M. and I just got back from a long evening out with friends, first to see The Wrestler at the E Street Cinema (highly recommended, it's a great movie!), and then to Nando's Peri Peri Chicken in Chinatown for dinner (which merits a separate post). Most of the dinner conversation centered around our separate experiences at the inauguration and what we had heard/read of others' experiences and events around town.
Overall, especially after hearing others' tales of inauguration day woe (ticket holders enduring freezing temperatures for hours starting at the crack of dawn, only to be turned away at the gate and miss the entire inauguration proceedings) I feel extremely lucky: Our inauguration experience went very smoothly.
Yesterday morning at 7:30 found me somewhat blearily assembling spam musubi (with brown short-grain rice and fried spam slices marinated overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and Japanese cooking wine) in our kitchen. I was faced with several challenges: getting the rice to stick together, and getting it to hold its shape. I finally got the rice to stick together after the third attempt, involving a small rectangular greased tupperware, even, firm pressure of my fingertips, and tightly wrapped plastic around each of the 4 finished musubi.
The rest of our inaugural bento snack included 3 lazy tea eggs on top of layered veggies (leftover carrot kinpira, pea shoots, and broccoli) and interspersed with grapes, celery sticks, and some assorted candy and chocolates. My idea was to assemble a small, tightly packed assortment of edibles that would keep outside for an extended period and save us from having to wait in line for hours in order to receive overpriced (and probably not very tasty) food purchased from Mall vendors.
My efforts were successful - not only did the food sustain us through the day, but we were able to enjoy it on the Mall in full view of one of the Jumbotron screens! We (M., S., and I) left our neighborhood about 8:00 am and found our viewing spot in front of the Washington Monument, facing the capital, at about 9:15. En route we were traveling in a steadily increasing crowd of people, and greeted by passersby cradling mugs of coffee and waving at us from their front steps.
I wasn't able to get a photo of the tea egg bento box, since my camera died (apparently, the batteries were unhappy in the cold).
In retrospect, I probably didn't need to plan my bento so that its contents would be enjoyable at room temperature, since the "room" in which the bento was enjoyed was the freezing cold Mall. We discovered that the spam musubi held together the best in the cold! (one was enjoyed afterwards, in the warmth of M.'s office a few blocks away).
Later that evening, while we were recuperating at home, I made some kind of variation on mee goreng (Indonesian/Malaysian fried noodles), with carrots, cabbage, and onions, seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste, sugar, and ketchup.
Given the time, I would have included these as part of the inaugural bento, a nod to the President's Indonesian background. However, considering the fact that I could barely manipulate the chopsticks with my frozen fingers to pick up pieces of carrot kinpira, it was probably better that I didn't manage to pack it.
Watching the President get sworn in yesterday, in the midst of such a huge and exuberant crowd, was an amazing experience. I feel extremely grateful that we were able to be there!