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60-Second Stir Fry: Hiroko Shimbo

It was the Friday before Sandy struck when cookbook author and blogger Hiroko Shimbo joined me in Studio 4 for the latest episode of Last Chance Foods. This was to air on the following Friday, November 1, the Christian Feast of All Souls. Halloween was coming, and the skull near the control board seemed especially at home. If Shimbo was flustered by the presence of such a grinning reminder of humankind's destiny, she didn't show it. She took her time with our lightning round of questions.

Our Stir Fry had more of a leisurely pace, like a 60-Minute Slow Roast. It was the last interview I conducted that seemed that way. After Sandy, nothing at WNYC, on the air, or in the backup generator-powered studios was leisurely.

Shimbo relishes detail. Asked about her least favorite seaweed, she described it down to its psychic state. Asked about what she eats for breakfast, she gave me her two alternating menus.

It's funny about breakfast, how much we're creatures of habit there. I, too, have the same thing practically every morning: yogurt, seasonal fruit and coffee.

Watch how Shimbo tries to get the best of the Stir Fry on the question of "Best City in Japan". She was stumped. No single answer there. But she cleverly tries to make it one big fat reply. If I had a penalty buzzer, I'd have been leaning on it heavily.

My interview with Hiroko Shimbo was just three weeks ago, but it feels like the distant past, separated by an ocean of floodwater. One bridge over those troubled waters: simple conversation, like a talk with a new friend about favorite things, home cooking and the little, personal rituals that give us something to hold on to.