Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Just finished brining the turkey, drying it, and stuffing it into my fridge. This year, as always, I am using Cook's Illustrated as my guide. Cook's Illustrated is THE BEST cooking guide. It is extremely scientific and even a bit geeky, but really wonderful. Since last year, I have started putting it in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before cooking it. This, according to Cook's Illustrated helps give you crispy skin. I started brining a few years ago after reading an article on Cook's Illustrated about the effect of brinig.

Cook's Illustrated
Jane Bowers, head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Kansas State University, says salt is used in meat processing to extract proteins from muscle cells and make these proteins more viscous:

“Brining turkey causes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. They become sticky, which allows them to hold more water.” Citing a similar example, she says frankfurters without sodium are limp. “It is the salt that gives hot dogs their plumpness,” she says.

Tina Seelig, scientist and author of The Epicurean Laboratory (W. H. Freeman, 1991), says salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. “When protein strands unwind, they get tangled in one another and trap water in the matrix that forms,” says Seelig.

And Dr. Bill Schwartz, director of technical services at the Butterball Turkey Company, adds that when these unravelled proteins are exposed to heat they gel — much like a fried egg white — and form a barrier that prevents water from leaking out of the bird as it cooks. The capillary action that draws blood out of the meat and gives it a milky-white color also helps the brining solution penetrate deep into the meat, according to Schwartz. This accounts for the pleasant salty flavor even of the inner breast meat.

You need to pay to search their database, but it's worth it.

This is Mr. Watanabe (we call him "Wanchan") who is the head doorman at the Hotel Okura. He's always very friendly. I met him on his first day on the job as a bell boy when I as probably around 10 years old or so. My mother was doing a lot of work in Japan for ECD and we stayed at the Hotel Okura. I hung out at the game center and with the staff. I remember even eating in the staff restaurant "behind the scenes" at the hotel. Mr. Watanabe showed me the secret doors and stuff and even took me to watch the Hotel Okura baseball team when he was a pitcher there. We've both grown up since then. I helped him find a cheap computer for his son when he was going to college and he makes sure I get free parking in front of the hotel.

Anyway, if you see him, say "Hi Wanchan!" and tell him you saw him on my blog. ;-)

Very funny

The Science of Christmas

An analysis of Christmas has been wending it's way across the Internet for a few years now. This analysis purports to debunk Christmas by showing that Santa could not possibly visit each and every house to distribute presents on Christmas Eve. But the analysis is deeply flawed because it is written from a pure physics perspective
Full Story


Penn's trip into the heart of enemy territory disgusted many Americans and won him the nickname "Baghdad Sean," a takeoff on the "Hanoi Jane" moniker Jane Fonda earned by visiting North Vietnam in 1971.
Good for Sean. It tooks guts for him to go to Iraq and I commend him for it. Shame on Iraq for screwing it up.

I first met Sean in 1991 or so when I was associate to the executive producer for the movie, Indian Runner which Sean Penn directed. The movie did OK at Canne, but ended up not doing well in the box office. The movie was a lot of fun starring people like David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Arquette, and Valeria Golino. It was my first and last job on a movie set, but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Later, when we were promoting the movie in Japan, I also took care of Sean in Tokyo and acted as his interpreter. I found Sean to be a really funny and very intelligent guy who I now greatly respect. He also introduced me to Heather, a good friend of Winona Ryder's, who was living in Tokyo at the time and who I still keep in touch with.

Anyway... I think this took a lot of guts and makes my previous entry about my fear of criticism seem quite trivial.

saw Xeni's post on Boing Boing

Top Stories - Reuters
Hundreds of Muslim Immigrants Rounded Up in Calif.
Wed Dec 18, 8:47 PM ET
By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle East citizens were in southern California jails on Wednesday after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with immigration authorities only to wind up handcuffed and behind bars.

Shocked and frustrated Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles, neighboring Orange County and San Diego in the past three days under a new nationwide anti-terrorism program. Some unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as 1,000.

The arrests sparked a demonstration by hundreds of Iranians outside a Los Angeles immigration office. The protesters carried banners saying "What's next? Concentration camps?" and "What happened to liberty and justice?."

According to Xeni, "Representatives of some local Iranian-American groups were quoted yesterday as saying they understand that the detainees may be shipped off to Arizona." There is an LA Times article as well.

I remember after the arrests following 9/11, the Japanese-American community made a public comment condemning the unfair imprisonment of Arab-Americans. This is really the 1940's all over again. And I was just starting to think about moving back to the US again. When are the American people going to wake up, read history and realize that they're headed down a pretty well trodden and terrible path? I complain a lot about the Japanese people being apathetic and unaware, but I wonder if this might be better than thinking you're aware and wishing for war and treating immigrants as if they were "enemy combatants" with no rights. Amazing.