Ladies Who Lunch

October 6th, 2010

I've known Mayumi Nishimura for 15 or 16 years. She was not only a teacher at the Kushi Institute (who taught me deep-fried, miso-stuffed lotus root–thanks!), but she was also the greatest head chef in the kitchen there. If Mayumi was cooking that day, you knew it would be gooooood.

Roughly ten years ago, word got out about her skills and Mayumi went off to cook for a singer named… um… oh yeah, MADONNA. She spent seven years chopping and sauteeing for the Material Girl and her ever-expanding brood. That gig bounced her around from New York to London to LA and on tours  around the world. If you think Madonna looks pretty good for her age, Mayumi, and the macrobiotic diet, have had a lot to do with it.

Here's what Madge has to say about Mayumi:

"In the seven years you lived with us and cooked for us, your amazing food helped me to be a happier, healthier person, balanced in body and mind.  I feel better than I did twenty years ago.  I am very grateful to you for this."   Yaayyyyyyyyyy!!!!!! I love macrobiotics!!!!!!

Because my mother lived in London, I got into the habit of seeing Mayumi whenever I was over there. We would meet to have tea at some fancy department store… sticking with the green tea and fruity desserts, of course.

Then, when I moved to Los Angeles, we bumped into each other here, and gossiped over agave-sweetened chocolate cake at Real Food Daily  in Santa Monica.

A couple of years ago, Mayumi moved back to her homeland of Japan, where she hasn't lived in 20-odd years. I figured I would help her adjust by making her take me out for lunch in Tokyo. We bonded over the totally macrobiotic lunch (designed by LA's Nadine Barner) at the Peninsula Hotel… SWANK!! Mayumi designed the macro menu there last year, so she knew the ropes.

Finally, last week, I giggled over soba and yuba with Mayumi at Souen in New York City . She was there to visit her daughter, who lives in Brooklyn.

I say all this because Mayumi has also written an amazing cookbook , which finally came out in English and which I highly recommend.  It's call Mayumi's Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul.

It contains a great ten-day detox plan and a ton of wonderful recipes, including this one, great for fall:

Brown Rice Mochi Crepes with Stewed Apricots

1 tsp rapeseed or sunflower oil

2 cups grated brown rice mochi

Stewed Apricots

10 dried apricots, quartered

1/3 cup spring water

pinch sea salt

1. Make the stewed apricots: Combine the apricots, spring water, and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

2.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and sprinkle the grated mochi in an even layer so as to form a thin pancake.  Cover and cook over low heat until the mochi melts.  Do not turn over.  Make 3 more in the same way.

3.  Serve the mochi with the stewed apricots rolled up inside or spread on top, or both. 

Mmmm…  Enjoy!

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