Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bonito Flakes

We bought bonito flakes.

I recently was randomly inspired to expand my Japanese cooking vocabulary, so I checked cookbooks out from the library and eagerly perused the recipes. As I read recipes with udon, dashi, and rice, I realized that we would need bonito flakes.

I discovered that bonito flakes are expensive, so-being a fairly frugal person-I hesitated at first. Why are they so expensive? Are they really worth it? 

My husband found a video that showed the process of making bonito flakes, and we were enthralled. 

To our untrained eyes, we summarized this process by agreeing that it looked as if real fish were ultimately being turned into something like blocks of hard wood, which are then shaved into flakes. Wow.

Seeing how much work goes into making bonito flakes, Jacob and I looked at each other in agreement. Well, that's why bonito flakes are so expensive! They must be totally worth it, too. As we read reviews on Amazon, we discovered that many people, interestingly enough, feed bonito flakes to their cats. Now, while I personally like dogs more than cats, I am not an anti-cat person. Cats are adorable, soft, and entertaining. Cats deserve good food. But can cats recognize the work and dedication that go into bonito flakes?


In fact, as we looked incredulously at reviews where proud men and women discussed how their cats eagerly gobbled up bonito flakes, I thought of how the Prodigal Son wanted to chow down on slop with pigs. But, instead of slurping up who-knows-what with pigs, I just wanted to be feasting on bonito flakes with cats. The more I thought about it, the more irritated I grew. Giving bonito flakes to cats began to seem like an injustice! Those sweet Japanese people put in so much hard work creating these bonito flakes...and for what? So that a fluffy cat (who can't truly appreciate the subtleties of flavor) can eat them? A cat would be perfectly happy eating canned cat food. A cat cannot truly appreciate the hard work that goes into creating bonito flakes. A cat cannot truly appreciate the hard work that goes into earning the money which is then used to buy bonito flakes. 

But then, as I think about this more, I realize that I am often like one of these cats. Feasting on riches of clothes, food, shelter, and entertainment, without giving a thought or word of appreciation for everything that goes into them. All of the times that I have bought into a culture of over-consumption and waste, and not shown true gratitude to others for what they have done, or truly appreciated what I had. I am a human person. I can look at a bag of bonito flakes and see more than  shavings of dried fish.

I can see the long hours that my husband works to earn money for food. 
I can see the work which others have done to create this food.
I can see the time I spend researching, shopping, and cooking to prepare delicious food for my family. 
I can see all of the people involved in bringing these bonito flakes to my doorstep. 

I am not a cat, who eagerly eats cheap food and expensive bonito flakes without appreciating the difference. I am a human person, and I can-and should-realize all of the tremendous blessings that God pours down on me each day. I need to recognize these, and live in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, showing appreciation to others for what they do. If I live in this way, and if you live in this way, how our homes, communities, and culture would change.


  1. "I am a human person, and I can-and should-realize all of the tremendous blessings that God pours down on me each day."
    This is so convicting, AnneMarie! I'm having a hard day today because Amaris has come down with hand, foot, and mouth disease. It's hard caring for her (she's basically miserable) and a 4-month-old.
    Anyway, this was a much-needed reminder to remember that I am so blessed...even when faced with difficult days.

    1. Oh, Shannon, I am praying for you! That sounds so, so hard. I'm so glad that my ramblings could help you out today.

  2. This blog came up when I was researching Bonito. Thanks for sharing your story :)