Usually on Sunday evenings, I like to stay home, cook and relax but this Sunday I had an opportunity to attend a community gathering where internees from the Tule Lake Segregation Center spoke about their camp experiences. Additionally, internment camp recipes and foods were discussed. The event was held at the Sacramento Buddhist Church on W Street, a conjoined effort between Allan and Meriko Hoshida (Mark's parents met at Tule Lake as teenagers) and Stacy Kono and Nina Fallenbaum (project coordinators for The Tule Lake Community Cookbook Project).

( Japanese community cookbooks and Tule Lake literature
at the event for guests to peruse)

The gathering started out with the Tanimoto brothers, Mori and Jim, recounting how they were evacuated from their homes, put on a train and advised that they were being imprisoned for their own safety. In a moving account they told how they could only take what they could carry and from there they endured degradation, segregation and alienation from a country that kept demanding that they prove their allegiance by signing it's "loyalty oath."

Then Mary Fong shared her experience of growing up as a child at Tule Lake. How she went to school during the day and worked in the mess hall in the evenings, all while behind a barbed wire fence and surrounded by watchtowers manned by armed guards. She also discussed the pilgrimage back to Tule Lake as an adult decades later and the emotions that arose within her.

Once the speakers were done, there was some historical background given on Tule Lake and how it had been known as the "NO NO camp." Audience members were encouraged to share their own experiences of Tule Lake as well as at other Japanese internment camps and then the conversation segued into the food that was eaten in the camps- from dishes like the infamous weenie royale and the chewy, slimy mutton stew. Also discussed were the various creative measures the internees took to make tastier or familiar growing a vegetable garden, smuggling rice from the mess hall or cutting a hole into their barrack's floor to brew and hide sake. Even digging a foot-wide ditch and spreading grains for the migrating geese...then lying in wait for the geese to land, get stuck (they were unable to re-open their wings in the narrow space) and catching them in sacks.

The evening concluded with a cooking demonstration of some weenie royale by Stacy Kono and each guest was provided with a bowl to sample the dish for himself/herself.

(Weenie Royale photo by photographer, Gabe Martinez)

Weenie Royale (adapted from recipe by A. Chow)


1/2  yellow onion, chopped

1-2 Tablespoon soy sauce

2 hot dogs

3 eggs

Serve with steamed white Japanese rice


- Saute the chopped onions with a tablespoon of soy sauce and cook at medium to high heat until they are caramelized.

- While you wait for the onions to caramelize, cut the hot dogs in julienne slices and beat the eggs.

- After the onions are caramelized, add the other vegetables, then hot dogs and cook for 2-3 minutes.

- Finally, add the beaten eggs to the onions and hot dogs and cook until the eggs are done.

- Serve on top of steamed white rice.

- Drizzle soy sauce on top. (optional)

[ If you or someone you know spent time at Tule Lake and would like to submit a recipe or food/camp story, please contact They're hoping to be able to put the Recipes of Resistance and stories (of before, during, after, redress and the pilgrimage) together to share with the next generation. ]
3 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    Thanks for writing up this story!! We welcome folks submitting recipes and stories - check out our blog at!

  2. Ally Says:

    You're welcome. Thank you for allowing me to attend. It was a wonderful event, well organized and the speakers were so moving. Please keep me posted about the cookbook.

  3. misa Says:

    I made this recipe tonight, and it was oishii (yummy for the non-Japanese speakers). Happy hubby resulted. I added some sliced cabbage for crunch.

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