Onigiri? Onigiri! /おにぎり? え?

Having a multicultural family always has its own challenges, especially when your partner does not share the same level of interest for your culture. Luckily, Marc has always been interested in Japanese culture and he has always supported me in raising our children in a mixed cultural environment. We’ve had our FAIL moments though…

Before we had children, before we were even married, we were busy New Yorkers living THE life in an East Village studio. I was a consultant at the time and had crazy hours. Calls at 10PM, working all-nighters…took me a while to realize it didn’t have to be that way.

Anyways, one of those nights, I’ve had enough and left work at around 9PM and called Marc hoping to see his face for once before crashing.

“Hey, had a rough day?”
“Yup, leaving now, should be back in about half an hour”
“Want anything when you get home?”
“…..I wish I had an onigiri or something… need soul food…. no, don’t worry about it…. just tired and blabbering…”
“OK, well, get home soon, we can chat later”

We hung up the phone and I dragged my butt home. When I opened the door, Marc welcomed me with a full smile and led me to the kitchen.


If you’ve seen a property made onigiri, it looks like this.
What I saw on the big dinner plate were 3 white oums (from the Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind).

…What? I wanted to ask him how a simple rice ball turned into large grubs, but seeing his proud face, I couldn’t do it. I did appreciate his effort, I just didn’t know what to say. I smiled, said thank you in the most sincere way I could and managed to use both hands to pick up one of the gigantic grubs.

“OK, shape is funny, a bit gruesome even, but it’s just rice. He made such an effort to cheer me up, I have to eat this,” I said in my mind.

First few bites, it was OK, it tasted like rice. Plain old rice. Fair enough. Then I bit into the middle and choked. I heard a large crunch in the middle and insanely salty blast hit my mouth.

Marc saw the shock on my face and said, “Oh no, are you OK? Did I do something wrong?”

I couldn’t contain it anymore. I burst out in hysterical laughter. I looked at the “onigiri” and saw that he had stuffed furikake, or Japanese salty rice sprinkles in a hole.

“Dude, I’m sorry, but what is this!?”

Marc explained, he couldn’t get the shape right ‘cause his fingers are shaped funny and he remembered the onigiri that we bought at convenience stores had stuffing in it. He couldn’t find the usual tuna or ume (pickled plum), he remembered I used the furikake with onigiri before, so he used it.

“How did you even get that in there!? Furikake is supposed to be mixed into the rice before you make the onigiri.”
“Well, I wasn’t sure how to do it either, so I tried to make the shape, and when I couldn’t do it, I figured I’d poke a hole in it with my finger, used a spoon to pour furikake in there and sealed it with rice.”
“This is terrible…how many cups of rice is it anyways?”
“Was I supposed to eat 3 cups of rice in one sitting?”
“Figured you could, you’re a bottomless pit…maybe you didn’t have lunch? ”

We both laughed. At that point we had already been living together for number of years, he’d seen me make onigiri so many times, but we realized when something is not a part of your culture, even years of being together, we still sometimes need to rehash it together and make sure what we think we know, is actually right.

Man, he tried, and he tried REALLY hard, but to this day, it’s the worst looking and tasting onigiri in the history of onigiri. Later, we took an onigiri class (Yes. They had such a thing in NYC) and he has since just learned to use saran wrap. Now, he makes them for Nina and Mila all the time and even taught Nina how to make them herself.

See girls, daddy wasn’t always perfect. It took some work to get him there!



















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