by: Maryann Wohlwend
This regular series uses the Akron Art Museum’s collection as a source for inspiration for meals to cook at home. Links to recipes at the end of the post.
Patrick Nagatani created works that explore political, cultural and historical themes such as the Japanese American WWII incarceration experience and the legacy of the nuclear bombings of Japan. He built and staged photo-dramas to capture the stories.
His parents, John & Diane, were imprisoned in different camps during WWII, relocated to Chicago, met, married, and started a family. Patrick was born in August 1945, days after the bombings in Nagasaki & Hiroshima, and raised Catholic in a Polish Midwest neighborhood.
While a graduate student at UCLA in the 1970s, Nagatani collaborated on an exhibition and book, juxtaposing the work of two photographers who recorded Manzanar Internment Camp during WWII: Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake.
In 1993, Nagatani traveled to Manzanar, where his mother had been incarcerated, making a photographic survey of memorials, remnants of habitation, and the landscape.
Hidden Kitchens (NPR.org) recorded Japanese-Americans: Ms. AKEMI TAMARIBUCHI: I’m 3rd generation Japanese-American. During WWII, my family was interned. I’m positive that many of the dishes I grew up eating stemmed from what they had in camp. Weenie Royale is one of my favorites. Sunday mornings, we always had sliced hotdogs mixed with eggs with soy sauce, stir-fried with onions over rice. There are so many things that have affected our culture, like the food. Some of my closest friends, never even heard the fact that the Japanese were interned…
As a docent at Akron Art Museum, cultural research is step one when creating tours. Honestly, I don’t remember hearing about Japanese internment during American History class, but I did learn about Manzanar watching The Karate Kid (1984). My heart broke then for Mr Miyagi’s loss & breaks now listening to voices of Japanese-Americans recalling their experiences — realizing that we must share hard truths with future generations.
…Ms. TAMARIBUCHI: To be honest, I think the Japanese culture is very silent. Nobody ever complains or talks about any bad times. My grandmother, my obachan, now 85, has become far more sensitive, wanting all of her family to understand where everything came from. Call the grandkids when obachan makes Weenie Royale for breakfast. Come and spend time so that you learn how to make this food, so you can make it for your children and their children.
Weenie Royale à la Patrick Nagatani
1/2 white or yellow onion - chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 hot dogs - julienne sliced
3 eggs - beaten
cooked white rice
1. sauté onions in soy sauce - medium heat - caramelize
2. add hot dogs - cook 2–3 minutes
3. add beaten eggs - cook until eggs are done
4. serve over rice
Cooking with the Collection is made possible with support from Acme Fresh Market, the Henry V. and Frances W. Christenson Foundation, and the Samuel Reese Willis Foundation.