About This Blog

A Food Journey

When I was in grad school, I used to go to the grocery store and buy a week of dinners: Gardenburgers, canned soup, frozen pizza, pre-made pasta. I was convinced that these foods were cheaper and quicker than making my own meals, though I could turn out homemade cakes like a champ during finals thanks to stress-cooking. After my M.A., I moved to Japan as a JET CIR and quite suddenly found myself having a panic attack: six years of formal Japanese study had not prepared me for the rural grocery store or the lack of familiar foods (or crutches) to make at home, and to add insult to injury, I was also without my Crockpot and my full-sized oven. Did I mention I had no idea how to cook for one?

I could have gone to the family restaurant or the kaitenzushi every night, but I decided that I was going to learn how to feed myself no matter what. When I started this blog in Feb. 2011, I had stopped whining “but you can’t buy that in Japan!” and starting trying to learn the secrets of food. One night over Vietnamese food in Nagano, as I sat poking a lotus root in coconut sauce trying to figure out its alchemy aloud so I could recreate it in the inaka, my friend looked me in the eye and said, “The conclusion to all your stories is ‘Then I’ll MAKE IT MYSELF.'” Thus, this blog was born.

Because I quite literally moved out of my food comfort zone, I developed a profound curiosity for how food worked. Because of my job, I learned how to cook tortillas and pita bread and met some incredibly creative foodies through international cooking lessons. Now, three years after I stepped off that plane, I cook (almost) entirely from scratch.

My Tenets

I believe in real food–most of the time.

Almost all the recipes on this blog are made from scratch, usually with whole grains and fresh vegetables. (Don’t worry, there’s dessert, too!) Eating well isn’t just about counting calories or fat, it’s about experimenting with the bounty of nature! Exception: Japanese regional Kit Kats and long days at work.

I am flexitarian.

I mostly cook and eat vegetarian food, but I do still eat meat, especially fish. Read more on that here. Most of the recipes I post are vegetarian and/or vegan (or vegan-izable). My food lifestyle stems from a combination of concerns about health and the environment but also because I just really love vegetables–and hate sterilizing the sink after handling raw meat.

I do not believe in gender-policing food.

On my very first day of college, my history professor stated, “Everything is about gender.” It’s true. The more I get involved in the food-blogging community and the food world, the more I get exasperated with people who uphold ridiculous gender norms about who eats what and who cooks. It’s high time we stop thinking of tofu and quiche as girly foods, of “girly foods” as lesser foods, of herbivore men and carnivore women, of cooking as a straight-white-middle-class wife-and-mother hobby or obligation.

I highly doubt that anyone sits down to write about food and thinks, “How can I oppress people today?” Gendering food is much more subtle, often subconscious, and so pervasive that most people probably don’t even know they’re in, to use Tatsuya Ishida’s metaphor, the Gender Matrix–and, to continue the metaphor, a lot of people would rather just continue ignore the issue of gender than confront it.

That’s why I’m here! In addition to being a foodie, I’m a geek with an academic background in analyzing gender in marketing, visual media, and pop culture. I promise to bring you delicious food without conflating gender roles with its consumption/production: no talk of “pleasing your man,” “sinful chocolate,” “meat-and-potatoes,” or “real women,” because food is for all people. In addition, I sometimes take a break from recipes and reviews to analyze food media regarding gender.

If you’re new to gender studies, have no fear! If outreach were not part of my repertoire I would be a lousy feminist. You’re welcome to comment with any questions, whether you’re new to Real Food or new to gender issues, and I will try to answer them and/or point you to helpful resources.

Let’s take back food together!

Featured on

Liebster Blog Award from The JWs Do Japan


The Huffington Post





11 Comments Add yours

  1. genkiduck says:

    Thank you for your blog, I always enjoy it. Here is a shiny new Liebster Blog Award just for you. (^o^)


    1. Leah says:

      Thank you! :3 I’m working on the post/questions for it now, but man, I am bad at picking a favorite food!

      1. genkiduck says:

        Haha, and I thought that was the easiest question. Good luck, I’m looking forward to reading your answers! :D

  2. sweeny says:

    hi there :-) I am trying to not be a lurker on blogs, and leave comments. I must say I was a bit excited to see the words “Kanazawa” in your blog (I am heading there for a few days over Christmas), plus I find your recipes really interesting.

    I did have a questions though: can you choose a heat to have the moven? I think that is what I have in my kitchen, and I see buttons for cookies, cakes, and gratins, but not a temperature setting. (in my movens defense, it is in Japanese, and could be there)

    1. Leah says:

      Thank you! You sure can set a temperature on the moven. It’ll depend on your model, but is there a button that says オーブン? If you press that, does a temperature come up with 予熱 (preheat) sign? If you hit one of those, you might be able to use a dial or an up/down arrow button set to adjust and preheat. Then hit the start (スタート) button. Like I said, it’ll depend on the model, but let me know if that helps.

      Enjoy Kanazawa! It’s gorgeous in the snow, especially Kenrokuen and Higashi Chayagai.

      1. sweeny says:

        thanks for that. I haven’t quite got it to work, but I did manage to see a temperature dial. I will definitely play around more.

        and ta! I will check those places out!

        1. Leah says:

          If you have the manual, sometimes there are helpful pictures, too. Good luck!

  3. Holly says:

    Hey there! We have nominated you for the blogging community award, the Liebster Award! This comes with fame, glory, and responsibilities. Check it out here: http://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/nominated-for-a-liebster-award/

  4. Ed Stamm says:

    I was trying to find shops that sell whole wheat bread flour in the Tokyo area (I make wheat bread at home in a bread machine), and I found your blog. I used to live in Nagoya and bought it at Tomizawa. Your article on flour is really good – thank you! I pasted your Japanese パン用全粒粉 into the search engine and voila! I’d like to run a crazy idea past you. Westerners in Japan for a while know where to find foods they are looking for, but they are often imported and expensive. It takes newbies a while to find things and to figure out which milk is lowfat, etc. (actually, I still have trouble with that). What if there was a market that had authentic western style food products that were made in Japan (much cheaper than imported), which had English speaking staff and which had English language labels on all of the shelves? What if you could buy or rent a bread machine or bake/microwave/grill oven there? What if this place had baking supplies? I’m thinking about starting a shop like that, and also thinking of spreading the workload and cost by doing it as a food coop. Think there are enough potential customers in eastern Tokyo? (I live in Kamagaya, Chiba). If people will drive to Costco….. Hoping you can give me a thumbs up or thumbs down, and if thumbs up, any advice you’d care to offer. Thanks for your time! BTW, I one bought a huge (25kg?) bag of brown rice once, certain that there would be other people in Nagoya interested in buying some of it if they could find it, and no one was interested. My wife and I are still eating it…..

    1. Leah says:

      Thank you! Your idea for a shop sounds great, and Tokyo area probably has a larger market for it than Ishikawa. I’m not familiar with the market there and I’m not a businessperson, but a place to rent kitchen equipment would have been great while I was on JET. Best of luck to you!

      One of the JETs and I split 3 kg bags of genmai for awhile, and when she moved on, I started going to the co-op and buying it 1-2 kg at a time. Kanazawa’s rice store in Omicho is great for that, so if you ever finish your bag, maybe there’s a co-op that does rice by the kilo.

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