We'd been hoping we'd be joined by about eight people this morning for our trip to Mitsuwa Plaza, a great big Japanese grocery store and mini-mall in Edgewater, New Jersey--there's a shuttle bus that runs from Port Authority. But one didn't make it in time and then took the wrong bus, and another had a family emergency, and nobody else showed up. Desolé. Still, Lisa and I had a good time there, and bought a couple of attractively designed notebooks and one very heavy backpack's worth of groceries one can't generally find easily around here. Including the crucial ingredients in the following remarkable recipe (though note: I asked four employees of Mitsuwa where they had shiso leaves. They all gave me the you-are-a-Martian look, and asked their supervisors, who did the same. Then I saw an old man setting out small trays of something labeled as ohba. I said "what's that?" He said "It's shiso. We call it ohba, but it's shiso"), which we just had for dinner (with a little pile of defrosted edamame), and which is ripped off with only slight variations from Karen Eng's lovely, lively 'zine Peko Peko:

Ume Shiso Spaghetti

Cook half a pound of spaghetti al dente. (While it's cooking, slice 5 or 6 shiso leaves very thinly.) Dump the spaghetti into a colander to drain. In the same pot you used for the spaghetti, let about 3 tablespoons of butter soften a little over low heat, then add 2 or 3 tablespoons of ume plum paste, return the spaghetti to the pot, and stir the whole thing until the butter's all melted and the spaghetti's evenly coated. Serve with the shisoslivers sprinkled over it, as well as some red pepper flakes.

Other totally fun thing we've gotten to do: last night we saw Treasures from the Chest, a film program at BAM with some of the earliest extant moving pictures (by Lumiére and others). WOW. Besides the pre-1902 movies (generally between 15 seconds and 2 minutes long, although the restored-within-the-last-month Robinson Crusoe is an epic at roughly 8 minutes), they showed a couple of later silents. There was one wonderful 1926 short called Mighty Like a Moose, starring a comedian named Charley Chase that I'd never heard of before (he looks more than a little like Robert Crumb), and directed by Leo McCarey, who later directed Duck Soup. I laughed so hard I was gasping a couple of times. How did I miss this guy? Can anyone suggest anything else Chase did? Or is that his best?