March 12th, 2009

One of my favorite things to try to do in this job, since I grew up in this area and so am often writing to you about things I’ve known all my life, is justify something that I’ve loved since I was a little girl. There are things that I don’t know if I would start doing today, but that I learned the value of so long ago that the truth of said value is second nature to me. So then, in this space, I am charged with convincing you of that truth, while acknowledging a perhaps less-than-inspiring exterior. Eating at Happi House, for example, our local Japanese fast food chain. I will admit that one of the big draws for me will always be emotional. I can’t ever go to a Happi House without remembering a sword fight my brother and I once had in one, after an aikido class, with the theme song from Karate Kid playing in the background, nor can I expect this to help motivate you to eat lunch there. I will also concede that once, maybe 15 years ago, a different brother could not understand why his Happi House chicken strips looked “sweaty” and that that made us all drift away for a while. But we went back.

What I can say positively is that those chicken strips were grilled and not fried. There are some tempura options on the menu, it’s true, but the majority of what you’ll find at Happi House is just plain grilled meat and comes with simple white rice and a crisp salad. Japanese food is notoriously healthy and the overall longevity of the Japanese people has been the subject of enough study to relieve me of any guilt of stereotyping. Is the fast food version going to give you all the benefits of fresh, careful, artful Japanese cuisine? I guess not. However, I am speaking to the part of you that indulges, from time to time, in little treats that may not lie on the straightest path toward becoming a supercentenarian. Happi House, I am pretty sure, veers closer to that original, true road than, say, a Big Mac. This is what keeps me going there. I have strong memories of eating five or six Dunkin’ Donuts at a time, too, but some things have to just become memories. I do know the difference. I sure hope you believe me!

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