Chew, Chew, Chew

While we were waiting to see the doctor on Tuesday evening, I taught the Beaner how to chew gum. I did it mainly because his breath smelled so foul I couldn't stand it anymore (something I need to ask the dentist about when I finally get around to making his first dental appointment). Although we brush his teeth at least once a day (and sometimes twice), we're obviously missing something, and I figured maybe some sugarless gum would have a positive effect on his overall mouth freshness, and possibly its health.

I stuck a piece of Bubblemint Orbit into my own mouth and demonstrated chewing without swallowing. "See? See how Mommy's chewing the gum—yummy gum!—but not swallowing it? I just keep chewing. Chew, chew, chew." After doing this, I realized that an entire stick would be way too big for his toddler mouth, so I tore a piece in half, unwrapped it, and handed it over. "Now you: Chew, chew, chew, but don't swallow!"

"What is it?" he asked.

"Gum," I replied.

"Gim?" he asked.

"No, gim is green. Gim is seaweed. You eat it with your bop," I clarified.

We went back and forth on the difference between gim and gum and which one this was a few times, and then he chewed and chewed and smiled and chewed. When I was sure he had the hang of it, I let him return to playing with the other kids in the waiting room and started texting Al about the gum success. In the middle of thumbing out my text message, the Beaner yelled, "more gum!"

"You didn't swallow it, did you?"


I had to modify my text message slightly.

We tried again with the other half of the stick in the exam room, once it became obvious that (a) the Beaner's breath was still terrible, and (b) the doctor wasn't coming in anytime soon. With him sitting on my lap, we reviewed the basics:

  1. Chew.
  2. Chew.
  3. Chew.
  4. Do not swallow.
  5. Chew some more.
  6. When the gum loses its flavor or you get tired of chewing, spit the gum in the trash or hand it to Mommy.

This time the Beaner really got it. He chewed and chewed and chewed. Whenever he'd stop chewing, I'd ask to see the gum to make sure he hadn't swallowed it, and he obliged. He tried to get the mechanics of bubble-blowing, but he couldn't put the tongue-and-blow parts together (not surprising). Something to aspire to, I guess.

Finally the doctor came in, and we started going over the chronology of the hives and the antibiotics and whatnot. That's the moment the Beaner chose to remove the gum from his mouth and hold it up to my face. "I'm done, Mommy!" he said. That's my boy.

This morning, as I got out the ingredients for my breakfast—tuna masubi, the recipe for which follows below—the Beaner pointed to the package of gim in my hand and said, "gum?"

"No," I said, "this is gim."

"Gim is green," said the Beaner. "Gum is pink."

"Gim is always green," I clarified, "but gum is not always pink. The gum you had the other day was pink, though."

It's so cool to see him trying to describe his world this way. What are the absolutes? Which properties are relative? Tangentially related, this morning the Beaner had the following dialogue with himself: "This is my Saab. Where is Daddy's Saab? He lost it. At grandpa Cho's house."

Tuna Masubi

1 sheet gim or sushi nori
1/2 container microwave white or brown rice
dash of furikake (optional)
1/4-1/3 can Trader Joe's olive oil-packed tuna

The first three ingredients are definitely available at H Mart, a Korean grocery store, and may also be available at other Asian markets. I like the sesame oiled-and-salted gim, but you can use sushi Nori instead. I would not recommend using the TJ's microwave-in-bag rice; it's not sticky enough. The furikake is optional if you're using oiled-and-salted gim, but I think with plain nori it's really necessary. You want the kind with nori bits, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar in it.

Microwave rice according to package directions. Lay out the gim or nori on a bamboo sushi mat. Open the can of tuna and drain the oil. When the rice is ready, scoop out half of it with a fork and spread as thinly as possible on the gim or nori. Leave a bit of a margin at one end; there'll be a much larger one at the other end because you'll run out of rice. You can use more rice if you want, but I find that 1/2 a container is usually plenty.

Scoop out some tuna and spread out over the center of the rice, again leaving margins on both sides. Sprinkle with furikake, if using. Finally, roll up the gim or nori using the mat, just as you would a piece of sushi, squeezing as you go. Let rest for a minute or two to allow the steam from the rice and the weight of the roll to seal the gim.

I guess this is really more of a tuna maki rather than a tuna masubi, but the ingredients are basically the same as the Home Maid Bakery used in their tuna masubis when I got them at Kapalua's Honolua Store last year (they weren't available this year, sadly), so that's what I call it. I don't slice it as you would sushi; instead, I just eat it like a stick of string cheese.

Posted by Lori in food and parenthood at 2:42 PM on March 15, 2007

Comments (1)


I love this story and this boy! I hope you guys are doing splendidly. I miss you in Maine.


I love this story and this boy! I hope you guys are doing splendidly. I miss you in Maine.

Posted by: hannah at March 17, 2007 10:27 AM

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