The Year Was 1973

I found this gem at my mom’s house. It’s a 1973 issue of a magazine called 秋のおかず • 基本と秘訣 (Fall Side Dishes • Basics and Tips). 1973 is the year after my mom and dad married, here in California. Without the presence of their parents at the wedding, they flew back to Japan to formally introduce each other to their families. My mom bought this magazine during that trip, when they were young and in love. She was only 26. Although much has happened since, I’m amazed she’s kept this magazine for nearly 40 years and still cooks from it to this day.




Looking inside, I noticed the top-down flow of text reads much like a blog! All the photographs are taken from the perspective of the home cook, often with the inclusion of her hands. What a clever aesthetic choice to help the reader visualize making each dish.

There are the recipes you’d expect to find, like takikomi gohan, tempura, donburi, and sushi. But to my surprise, there were also dishes from around the world, like pilaf, kebab, gratin, an array of Chinese dishes, and even a jelly mold!




Finding this made me think about the longevity of family recipes and the link between memory, food, and culture. This has been a long-held interest of mine and I’ve been trying to get my hands on my grandmother’s recipes, hoping to recreate some of the dishes she made when I was growing up. I haven’t had much success, but I’m grateful I have access to my mom’s cooking and all the guidance and instruction that influenced her.


Despite the great content, what I love most is tactile: the feel of the weathered cover, the crinkle of the warped pages, its lack of back cover, the burn marks on the spine, and the faint ring on the back page, suggesting the issue was placed on an electric burner that was still warm.

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11 Comments

  1. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I hope you share some recipes or techniques from this book!

  2. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Priscilla, yes! I do plan on featuring some of the recipes. Stay tuned!

  3. Posted October 19, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    It is a gem indeed! I also love the splashes and other “human” marks in cookery books, but since it belongs to your mum, such signs of the past are much more meaningful and made this book particularly precious. The step-by-step photos look surprising indeed. They also made me think of many blogs… Japanese culture is much more visual than the Western one (even now step-by-step photos are rare in cookery books). I also hope to see you prepare some recipes from this marvellous find.

  4. Posted October 19, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Sissi, this was a true find, as I know you can appreciate! Surprisingly, there are only 2 full-page advertisements and the rest is jam-packed with recipes. I’m going to go through this volume a little at a time, but will post something soon!

  5. Posted October 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    What a find, indeed! It’s amazing how contemporary (and, yes, blog-like) some of these photos look, though the presentation (sprigs of parsley, floral China) is definitely very 1973. Thank you for sharing this bit of personal history with us. Looking forward to more!

  6. Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Emma, it’s really kind of hilarious to see the 1970s touches!

  7. N
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Amazing post! I have often wondered about Oba-chan’s recipes (particularly that nasubi pickle)… It’s wonderful that your mom saved this magazine and uses it still. I’m so happy that you are safeguarding and thinking about family recipes… :)

  8. Posted October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    N, nasubi pickles! I think that was a nukazuke. That was so, so good. Fumi-chan has tried looking for notes and recipes, without any luck. Apparently Oba-chan would jot things down on random scraps of paper, so there isn’t a consolidated book. But I haven’t given up hope!

  9. Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    These remind me of the pages of magazines my mom used to cook from back in the times we grew up in Brazil. The step-by-step photos are typical :) and bring back good memories watching my mom cook a new recipe!

  10. Giang
    Posted March 6, 2014 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Konichiwa Azusa
    I am Giang from Vietnam. I am not so good at internet as well as English. But after reading some pages in ur blog. I decided to write to u
    I am doing Japanese restaurant with my sister in Vietnam
    Hope become ur friend. Thank you

  11. Posted March 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi Giang, congratulations on your restaurant! I hope you enjoy these recipes and wish you much success.

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