Last night I was in the presence of master storyteller and shamisen musician, Kunitoshi Kineya. (The shamisen is a 3 stringed lute, which has entertained the Japanese since the 1300s.) Whilst sitting on the soles of his feet seiza-style (a killer on the knees!) and strumming his shamisen, Kineya-san transported the audience through the classic Kabuki (Japanese traditional theater) tale of Kurozuka. (An evil witch, a curious porter and noble Buddhists interact in ways reminiscent of a Shakespearean play.) As Kineya-san told the centuries-old Kurozuka story, he created tension and comic relief with a lift of an eyebrow, a lilt of a tone and perfect pauses.
The Japan Foundation gifts Los Angeles and New York with exquisite cultural events. This event starring master shamisen musician and storyteller,
Kunitoshi Kineya was exceptionally great!
(Photos courtesy of the Japan Foundation.)
Side note: Kabuki theater in Japan and Shakespeare’s Old Globe both popped up in the early 1600s. Remarkable, too, is the similarity between the theatres. The Old Globe has a trap door (for ghosts and figures from the underworld) and a long apron for soliloquies. Kabuki theatres have similar contraptions for unsavory characters and a long road (hanamichi) that juts out into the audience.
As Kineya-san played his shamisen lute last night, and sang of human heartaches and triumphs, I became a willing captive and was lifted to another place. (In this case, Northern Japan where Kurozuka is set.) What Kineya-san does is pure magic (created by decades of training!) I am in awe of how one man sitting on his haunches, strumming a single instrument can mesmerize an LA iPhone-addicted audience for an hour.
Superb stories, storytellers and slices of cake...
Sometimes life serves up surprisingly memorable sweets.
Pictured: The Ninja Baker's Slow Cooker Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Yet, don’t we all have a family member or friend who can also weave tales like nobody’s business? Aren’t there times when you’ve walked away from a dinner and wondered how it got so late? Well, at this week’s #SundaySupper Twitter chat, we are exchanging slow cooker recipes so you can spend more table time with those precious people in your life. (Scroll down for your detailed invite.) That is the beauty of a slow cooker, right? You throw everything in one pot. Let it simmer, stew and/or steam, allowing more time out of the kitchen; freeing up time with those you love.
Steep in the stories of loved ones at the family table.
Leave lemon poppy cake baking to the slow cooker.
My sweet tooth dictated a slow cooker lemon poppy seed cake. I was a bit nervous about “baking” in a slow cooker…But, my slow cooker lemon poppy seed cake is guaranteed enchantment for a Sunday brunch, snack or dessert! (Well, almost guaranteed. Blanket statements are dangerous.) Although you can’t taste the coconut flakes and flour, they add fantastic moisture to the lemon poppy seed cake. Lemon is the star of this cake. (Add more lemon peel if you prefer a pucker.) Notes of wholesome cornmeal also flavor the dessert. Poppy seeds add a petite crunch. The “frosting” is a simple honey infused cream cheese and makes the slow cooker sweet a legal-to-eat anytime of the day cake!