5/18/12 – 23:54
I will start this entry off with a quote from a 先輩 who studied here a couple years ago:
“Cooking for yourself, especially in Japan, is like… ahoo“
– Tommy Ludwig
After leaving home-stay, I was on my own as far as making food went. Not that I’m not used to this. Living in my own apartment at UF for the past couple years has gotten me accustomed to setting my own menus and buying my own groceries and being an adult and all that jazz. Plus, I like cooking. It’s actually a hobby of mine. So, being thrown into a world of grocery stores where I can only read half of the labels on everything was, at least in my eyes, a great adventure.
I was able to recreate my usual 簡単料理 fare [consisting mostly of omelets and spaghetti] with Japanese ingredients but I go off on tangents and perform experiments as well. One of these was “Chicano Style Deep Dish Pizza.” Don’t you mean Chicago? No. Chicano. I was talking with a friend about how we missed American food and due to an unfortunate [fortunate?] mistype, the word “Chicano” came out instead. And upon further thought, it didn’t seem like too bad an idea, actually. So we thought up a definition for the pizza and then just for additional validity, I consulted an actual Mexican national about what should go on a Chicano Pizza. He said: “You know, those salty frijoles, and lots of paprika, and ground beef. Onions. Maybe jalapeños.” So I followed his instructions and assembled the Tex-Mex ingredients as best I could at a Japanese supermarket. The result is as follows. It was actually between passable and good, but that might be because I usually just eat everything and like it. I call success.
Oh but yeah, Japanese supermarkets. They’re pretty much like American ones except that fruits are astronomically expensive, the fish section is disproportionately gigantic, and so is the tea section. There is a conspicuous lack of fresh herbs, a conspicuous abundance of thinly sliced meat [for serious, that’s basically the only way they sell meat]. I wish I had more pictures to show you what a typical Japanese スーパー looks like, but unfortunately taking pictures inside them is a no-no, I feel. I mean, I could always gaijin smash, but… whatever. Use your imagination, guys.
Anyway, whenever I needed to calm down in America, I would always go to Publix (the Southeast U.S. equivalent of Kroger’s or Food Lion or Jewel or whatever large chain grocery store you have wherever you live) and wander aisle by aisle. having everything lined up neatly on either side of me was for some reason, extremely calming. Also, I could think up things to try making in the kitchen when I got home. I don’t know if I feel the same calmness in Japanese supermarkets though. Perhaps it’s because I have to constantly be concentrating on translating all the labels into something that actually makes sense to me or the music that they choose to play [either the repetitive store jingle or some Portuguese Samba music. Don’t ask because I don’t know]. If there’s one thing I miss about America, it’s Publix. I. Miss. Publix.
Despite the desperate yearning for the bounty of familiarity that is an American grocery store, experimenting here is fun. With the leftover half an avocado I had from Chicano Pizza adventure, I was able to approximate huevos rancheros with rice and also make some cucumber asazuke. I’ve gone to a fair amount of Japanese food-making parties as well like the one pictured on the right there. There was takoyaki , which is a signature Osaka dish. It’s chopped up octopus in a batter ball cooked in these pans that sort of look like a chinese checkers board. Then there was temaki which is basically like normal sushi except you an individual serving with the ingredients on a single sheet of seaweed. I could have eaten that forever, it was so good. But then again, I’m a die-hard sushi fan forevz, yo.
I really wish I had the will, the time, and money to make a food blog about Japan. It really does surprise you at every corner with their cuisine and their take on other cultures’ cuisines. I’ve posted the pic before but I mean 馬刺し [raw horse meat]. How often do you get to eat stuff like that? Also, potato chips with mayonnaise drizzled on them. Wtf, mate?
– So the featured song up there is the opening theme to this anime called Shirokuma Cafe, aka Polar Bear Cafe and it’s basically my favorite thing on Japanese TV right now. It’s just so cute and wacky and just up my alley. You should go watch an episode [there are a few places online where you can stream it subbed].
– Loft is a chain store and I love it to no end. It has basically everything you could ever want and to put it bluntly, is like IKEA on crack. It has a whole bunch of random character goods as well as home goods and food and I just can’t even. If all the stores in Japan disappeared and I could only save one, I would pick Loft.
– Realization: More than half of the time, it really isn’t about the pictures you take. It’s about the people in them. Perhaps I’ve been missing out on that part this semester.
– Robbey, on his way to his summer studying in Beijing, stopped by Osaka for a week. It was really great catching up with him and showing him Japanese hospitality at [where else…] an izakaya. It’s fun to listen to his thoughts about Japan as a newcomer. It makes me think about what I’ve gotten used to and what I never noticed before.
– Tonight, the clarinet section had a party to welcome the new members [SIX of them. that’s a hell of a lot] and to also say goodbye to me [oh my god, so sad]. It was at a korean restaurant by the station and everything was so good. I gave deokbokkgi (sp? ._.) another chance and I think I changed my mind about it. It was delicious. All the new kids are pretty chill and funny and my friends were great as usual. It’s these people that I’m so 名残惜しい to leave behind when I go back home to America. I get so depressed thinking about it. On a lighter note, being the only guy in a section full of girls makes me feel like I’m in a harem anime like Negima or Love Hina or something. I wish someone would write a manga about the clarinet section, it would be hilarious.
– Oh my god, I only have 12 days left in Japan. OH MY GOD. WHY.