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Celebrate Japanese culture at Oriental Food Bazaar

10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 3, Del Oro High School
By: Kathy Maynard, Loomis News Correspondent
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The culture, food and traditions of Japan will be celegrated at next weekend's Oriental Food Bazaar. The First United Methodist Church of Loomis continues its tradition of sharing Japanese food and culture with the community at its 58th Annual Oriental Food Bazaar, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Del Oro High School. The church’s Japanese heritage will be honored when Soju Sumie Ward and several of her students demonstrate a Japanese tea ceremony, at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Ward is a trained instructor of Chado, The Way of Tea, a highly ritualized discipline which encompasses art, history, architecture and spiritualism to promote the ideals of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. “My first memory of making tea is with my father when I was about six,” Ward said. “He wore a three-piece suit to work, then changed into a kimono when he came home and made tea.” Ward immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1959 with her husband, Tom, a U.S. Marine. When Tom Ward retired from the military, the family moved to Penryn in 1973 and they joined the church where Ward helped the minister communicate with first-generation Japanese members. When Ward met several ladies from the Placer Buddhist Church demonstrating a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Penryn School in 1975, she asked to study with them. In 1980, Ward received a scholarship to study for a year in Kyoto, Japan under the tea grand master. Ward spent several years teaching classes at Sierra College and had Myochoan, a traditional Japanese teahouse and garden, constructed on her property 20 years ago. She continues to teach and organize tea gatherings privately at her home. “Sumie is one of the very few Japanese American women in the church who still does that kind of thing,” said Gordon Lam, head general chairman of this year’s event. “I think it’s important … to keep some sense of the old connection to the church for us.” Along with the tea ceremony demonstrations, the Oriental Food Bazaar menu features the church’s famous barbecued teriyaki chicken, pork chow mein, barra sushi and lots of homemade desserts for both dine-in and take-out customers. “About two-thirds of the people buy take-out, carrying out boxes of chicken, quarts and half gallons of chow mein and packages of sushi,” said Gordon Lam, head general chairman of this year’s event. “Last year we sold out by 5 o’clock.” Originally founded in 1903 by Japanese immigrants, First United Methodist Church held its first Oriental Food Bazaar in 1954. The event continued grew in popularity and moved to the Loomis Memorial Hall, before ending up at Del Oro High School’s cafeteria 20 years ago. “It’s the church’s biggest fundraiser with a year-long planning cycle. We break the whole church into four teams with 43 different committees of about 20 people,” Lam said. “It’s quite an effort.” Church members begin baking and freezing fruit pies in January. The serious food preparation begins at the church on the Wednesday before the bazaar when mushrooms are prepared for the barra sushi – made with flavored rice and vegetables. On Thursday, 340 pounds of noodles are boiled and fried. On Friday, 800 pounds of chicken are cut up, 200 pounds of pork and 45 dozen eggs are cooked, 100 pounds of rice are washed, and the last of the cream and lemon meringue pies are made. Everything is set up at Del Oro on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, the teriyaki chicken grilling begins before dawn, and the chow mein is assembled fresh, according to an old family recipe. ORIENTAL FOOD BAZAAR What: Oriental Food and Japanese tea ceremony demonstration Who: First United Methodist Church of Loomis When: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Mar. 3; tea ceremony at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Where: Del Oro High School, 3301 Taylor Rd. Information: www.loomisfumc.org/