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  • Interview With Hiroshima Bombing Survivor, Taiko White

    People tend to look at me with a rather confused look on their face when I tell them I have a Japanese grandmother. Taiko might not be my grandmother by blood, but she married into my family. When she used to babysit me as a kid, she'd give me a gallon of ice cream and a spoon so what more do I need to call her "grandma"? I can't say I agree with her all the time, but she's my family and I think her story is an important one to tell. It's not too often you meet a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, after all. 

    This interview was filmed last October and a transcript can be found here. For more information on Taiko and her amazing life, keep reading, but be warned that the video as well as the paragraphs below contain graphic descriptions. 

    Along with her, Taiko’s immediate family survived the bombing of 1945, although her father died a few years later due to related complications. Taiko survived the blast through sheer fortune of being blown between a wall and nearby bushes, protecting her from the worst of the damage. Other members of her family survived by seeking shelter, although some still suffered from chemical burns. One of her siblings survived only because the father of the girl she had been playing with mistakenly grabbed the wrong child, leaving his own daughter outside in the darkness.

    In the aftermath, Taiko was recruited to help care for survivors. Unfortunately, many of those who survived the initial blast did not receive the medical care they needed. Unable to bury the large numbers of victims, the people of Hiroshima were forced to burn many of the bodies. The playground outside Taiko’s school was one spot where bodies were gathered for disposal and she, along with her schoolmates, found themselves in charge of burning the corpses.

    As mentioned in the interview, Taiko’s brother enlisted with Japan’s military as a Kamikaze pilot. While he was obviously not expected to survive the war, news of Japan’s surrender reached him the very day he was scheduled to take flight.

    When the war ended, Taiko and her siblings made lives for themselves in whatever manner they chose. For example, Taiko’s Kamakaze brother went on to be one of the founding members of the Toyota Motor Corporation. Another of her brothers became a high-ranking mob boss with the Yakuza (who made sure his family wanted for nothing).

    Taiko, on the other hand, went on to (accidentally) become the first woman to sail around the Japanese islands. To support herself and her family, she trained U.S. soldiers in the art of Judo while also acting as a bouncer for a local bar. Said bar was where she official met her future husband, Lloyd (Dee) White, after she was forced to throw him out of the establishment. Eventually, they wed and moved to the U.S. finally settling down in Kentucky with their son and daughter after many years spent traveling from naval base to naval base around the world.

  • First Dates and Burgers of the Lamb Variety

    My first date with Jacquelynn was filled with the same amount of anxiety all first dates are. Actually, no, that’s a lie. There were a lot of reasons why it was different than any other first date either of us had been on. For starters, it was technically her first “first date”. Like many people, she and her previous partners had been friends and then one day they realized there was more to it then that and all of a sudden, relationship!

    For me, well, let’s just say I was no stranger to first dates. I was, however, not so used to caring as much as I did on that first date with her. As annoyingly clichéd as it might be, I knew there was something different about her – I had already talked to her enough to know this would be different from a lot of the first dates I had gone on. So when I was getting ready to meet her and take her out, I probably checked the grimy mirror in my college house a thousand times while I waited until it was time for me to leave. You know, just in case I messed up my make up or my clothes suddenly changed in the two seconds that had passed since the last time I looked. Still, I hid my nerves better than she did.

    When it was finally time for me to pick her up, we realized that our whole plan for a date night was centered around a movie we had mentioned wanting to see (to be honest, when we first discussed plans, it wasn’t really established that it was going to be a date). So we were sitting there and she starts listing off restaurants within walking distance of the theatre. An Italian place that would certainly pass for a good traditional date, a chain restaurant she mentioned I think mostly to test whether or not I was worthy of taking to dinner, and then hesitantly, Jacquelynn mentioned a place she absolutely loved, B Spot.

    Now, for those of you who don’t live in the Cleveland area and who don’t know the name Michael Symon, just know I was in the exact same boat as you at this point. Jacquelynn, on the other hand, knows her food (and has spent the last three years opening my eyes) and knows that if you want a good burger, B Spot is the place to go around here. Her only problem was that a burger isn’t exactly what you’re told to picture when you’re dreaming of an amazing first date. So even though her eyes lit up as she started telling me about the specially blended meat that goes into each burger and the fact that they fry their rosemary shoestring fries in delicious, delicious duck fat, I could practically see her palms start sweating over having mentioned something so “low-brow” as a burger for a first date.

    That’s when I reminded her we were seeing a comic book movie.

    With her fears eased and my stomach growling (I hoped not too loudly), we made the final decision that we would completely abandon the thought of a “fancy” first date. As Jacquelynn promised, the burger was amazing. Cooked to perfection and greasy enough to require about twenty napkins, it was an easy thing to rave over during our conversation and in the back of my mind, I was hoping even more that our date went well because I immediately wanted another (both a burger and a date, but I knew I wanted the second.. and third… and fourth date long before I left my house that day).

    Fast-forward many months and Jacquelynn and I were living together, suddenly having to feed ourselves every night. As we tried to figure out what kinds of meals we would make, both of us immediately remembered that first date and how much we enjoyed something so simple as a burger. So with the idea of making something with some nice emotions attached to it, one of the first things we tried to make was a burger as good as the ones we’d tasted at B Spot. Long story short, trying to make a burger like that when all you have is whatever ground beef you can find at the store is pretty much impossible. Sure, the beef burgers we had weren’t bad, but they sure as hell weren’t what we wanted. So, we decided to get a little more adventurous.

    Abandoning beef altogether, Jacquelynn began experimenting with different ground meats. We’ve had turkey, bison, elk, and whatever else we could find, but the one burger that really stood out to us was the lamb burger detailed in Jacquelynn’s recipe. These lamb burgers have become our go-to burger when we're looking for a date night in or even when we just want something comfortable and delicious. Wrapped in crispy prosciutto, topped with fresh mozzarella and basil with a drizzle of balsamic to finish it off, these burgers can’t even compete with anything else we’ve made at home.

    Recipe can be found here!