Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Orientalism and TOYS

My Korean friend once told me I was probably Chinese or Japanese in a former life. Because although today I went out looking a bit county - with my jeans tucked into brown boots wearing a green sweater, ivory pin, and brown leather belt - I am an opportunistic Chinatown-style eater and lover of all decorative arts oriental.

Today at Wasabi, the sushi bento cafe on Piccadilly, I chose 10 pieces of norimaki sushi (you know, the usual little rolls) and a deelish salad topped with seaweed and a yum sesame dressing.

Two doors down, I decided to pop into the Japanese sweet shop and pick up my dessert. It's very zen in there, with minimalistic koto music and row upon row of prettily wrapped sweets made from bean paste, persimmon jelly, rice starch, chestnut paste, and who knows what else. Kudos to the Japanese for offering the most varied desserts in the Orient.
I bought a jyukushi (persimmon jelly made of bean paste) and a tsuyaguri (bean jelly with a liqueur chestnut in the centre).

The reason I started on the Asian theme is because after the Job Centre trip on Monday, I went to the China Life shop in Camden. They sell all sorts of herbal concoctions and health gadgets, there's an alternative medicine spa, and a newly opened tea room which serves dim sum. I bought theeeee most fragrant Jasmine tea ever, which I enjoyed tonight with my sushi (I find green tea brews too bitter over here), and I bought a Korean Su Jok finger massager. It looks like a funky silver ring, but rolling the prickly thing up and down your fingers and toes daily for a couple of minutes each is supposed to relieve all sorts of aches and pains, ease tension, and improve lung and digestive system function.


Now let's start from the beginning:

After dropping off my gallery application at the agency on Hanover Square, I doubled back to Regent Street and went for a long walk, making one stop at Hamleys (for you Yanks, it's London's equivalent to FAO Schwarz). I like to wander around there once in a while, just to remember the joys of childhood.

-- I think I spent more time than is normal running my hands through the marbles, remembering which ones I used to have. There was a guy dressed like Ali G, blowing bubbles and repeating, "Bubbles bubbles blowing bubbles."
And a Latvian guy blowing a magic balloon and hollering something about being superhuman to the dazed couple in front of him.
-- I went around squeezing the stuffed toys and looking to see if I could find my Steiff (Knopf im Ohr) ducky (I called her Pikki...why?). I hope I didn't snip her label off, she could be valuable one day.
-- I was in awe of the Narnia staircase. Snowflakes came out of a little machine, it was dimly lit and filled with snow-dusted fir trees, there was a cutout of Mr Tumnus and the Ice Queen's sled...!
-- I went up to the little girls' floor and found the Sylvanian family I used to have, with their tiny furniture. I didn't know they still made Cabbage Patch Kids! Barbie is more ridiculous than ever. And I also found the Zapf creation baby I had. Now I'd prefer the teeny weeny wrinkled newborn baby. Awwwww it was adorable and looked a bit real.
-- Then I went all the way down to the interactive floor. I bought something! Yes, one of those little Sea Shrimp kits I had about 20 years ago. I was tempted to get the Triassic trilobyte-y kit but let's start small, eh? Oh there is a whole line of Annoying Frog (Ring dinga ding ding ding) products, including a noisemaking keyring. You could get one and annoy people in lifts and Tube carriages.

You know, there were more adults than children in this toy shop...adults unaccompanied by offspring of any sort.


Once I got to Swallow Passage I cut through to Piccadilly, which is when I picked up my dinner. Ah, nearly forgot I went to my old haunt Fortnum & Mason to buy some Orange Pekoe tea. I didn't get a choccie box because they had no dark choc Turkish delight, no marrons glace and no Cocobello logs. Nothing I usually buy! They don't even do mini-Florentines anymore! That section seems to be shrinking, hopefully because it's still dead-January.

But never mind, I forgot I had some Chicci di Caffe from Rococo. They look like coffee beans and taste like coffee, but they're made of dark chocolate and likely infused with coffee essence.

Ooh, it's been ages since I rabbited on about luxury goods, hasn't it? Well, Olivia is once again a Human Bean...!

Oh, and I am going to work tomorrow on Haymarket. Looking extra smart again. Tut.


Jia Li said...

Have a good time at work

Steliano Ponticos said...

Yes have a great time and wish me luck for my first 3 exams tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

hey, I tried to leave a comment earlier but it wouldn't let me. Now i don't remember what I was going to say. Have fun working!!!

Steli--no such thing as luck---I shall wish you all the best (credit given to olivia).

rox said...

Olivia I think you would feel you had died and gone to heaven if you were to go to one of Zurichs Teuscher shops. Best chocolate in the world!
Enjoy work :o)

MattJ said...

Japanese and Korean films are setting the standard for cinematography too, so you can sit and eat your vast variety of sweets while ejoying Old Boy or Sympathy for Mr Vengeance. :p

M. said...

Funny that your Korean friend didn't include being Korean as an option for your former life!

Ever try to make your own tea concoctions? I love going to Chinese markets for that - packages and packages of dried flowers, herbs, and tea; with a good teaball or two you can have so many varieties.

Ah, you're making me miss home.


Olivia said...

Thanks Jia Li and Steli

Steli, all the best for your exams, you have studied hard for so many weeks, now show them what you know!

Vanessa - you have got to sign your name at the end, otherwise you could be Anonanon.
Anon thinks he's all special coz he doesn't have a name.

Rox...mmmmm, one day I will go to Switzerland. Ever tried Pierre Marcolini? He has been designated best chocolatier in the world. But he's Belgian.

Matt - only two sweets, one left for tonight.

Merserene - yes when I lived in TX we used to concoct tea. Thanks to the water there, green tea brews with a floral flavour (as I said here it's bitter) but black tea has no body. Over here, green tea is bitter and black tea robust. I once had a fanciful theory that in London, the tea molecules can latch onto the calcium atoms.

Anway, we used to mix black tea with gunpowder green tea and cloves in the morning, earl grey at night, and other interesting flavours depending on our mood.

Anonymous said...

sorry, i forgot.

Rox said...

There is of course no way anything could ever beat Swiss chocolate. :oP~~ drool. Wish I wasn't on a diet yet again cause being in Switzerland at the mo and not being allowed any is rather difficult. This is the link to Teuscher, a god among chocolatiers. As you will see you can order online (expensive) and there are shops in other parts of the world. Chocolates there are flown in from Zurich btw! Love it!

Anonymous said...

I really should put in a line from a Radiohead song about being special, but it involves swearing, so I won't...

Olivia said...

V - that's better :P
...I miss you lil sis...

Rox - Hm, wonder if they sell them at the Chocolate shop across the road from F&M...
Thanks for the link.

Anonanon - You're particularly good at quoting Radiohead. So do it, but use a few asterisks. *****

Rox said...

No unfortunately Teuscher don't sell in the UK more is the pity. :o(

Anonymous said...

miss you too missie. I have been super busy. Hope i'll have some time this weekend to write you. There's lots happening.

Anonymous said...

Have a look at

that's the reference to special...