Teaching In Socks

On nourishment…
August 25, 2008, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

I could be wrong about this, but I suspect a number of you back home are wondering what I eat here in Japan. For those of you who aren’t interested in my Japanese dietary habits, just keep hitting the “refresh” button until I write another post.

My answer to the curious bunch: For the most part, ice cream. It’s summer, and nothing, let alone a trans-Pacific move, will keep me from my daily summer sugar, cream, and ice ritual. Aside from saccharine pseudo sacrament, I do eat real food on occasion.

Obviously, the general American consensus is that they eat a lot of sushi here. My suspicion of this stereotype was confirmed when almost everyone who learned I was moving to Japan asked, “wait, do you LIKE sushi?”. I get it, we don’t hear much about Japan cuisine that doesn’t involve raw fish, and I don’t really give off the “sushi aficionado” vibe.

I admit I may have had a reputation in the past of confining my culinary preferences to a few options. However, the days of “Ted doesn’t eat anything green” and “Ted fears the prospect of uncooked fish on top of rice” are over. I eat things. And as part of the travel experience, sometimes those things are weird.

However, I have only had sushi once since my arrival–today in fact, and it tasted soooo cliche. One might say it was comparable to uncooked fish on top of rice in America.

Aside from the occasional squid-fest (as I mentioned in a previous post) I try to keep a diverse palette, including both Japanese dishes and a number dishes with varied ethnic origins. The Indian restaurant in the same shopping center as my school is a nice asset because they serve a decent curry and they speak English. In fact, if they didn’t aggressively blast Bollywood soundtracks over their speaker system all day, I would probably refer to this restaurant as The American Embassy. For now, the “Japanophone” yet American influenced KFC, McDonalds, and Baskin-Robbins (aka: 31 Flavors) food court takes that title.

In terms of traditional Japanese cuisine, so far the highlight has been Okonomiyaki. This is essentially a pancake of sorts filled with whatever you want–pork, shrimp, beef, vegetables, and topped off with “sauce” (BBQ sauce) and mayonnaise. It is not as good as my grandmother’s pancakes, but aside from those, It’s probably the most delicious thing I have eaten; unsurprisingly, it has a health value of negative five.

My only complaint about Japanese food is the temperature. While many people, clearly with sushi and noddles on their mind, associate Japanese foods with being cold and slimy, the truth is quite the contrary. Anything ordered hot is served at near sizzling temperature. Fries from Mos Burger, roasted chicken. an even the “hot” towel they give you pre-meal, all clock it somewhere between searing and meltdown on the thermostat.

Thus, I generally burn my mouth three to four times a week. It’s a painful and inevitable process. I’m sure there is a Taoist/Buddhist/Zen element to this that Japanese people have mastered, but I clearly have not studied those texts diligently enough. Regardless, as an American, I fear the level of patience necessary is not in my repertoire. However, there is a silver lining: One no longer fears a strange or unfamiliar food when he is aware that all scalding food tastes the same (think about that Lao Tzu!).

For when I want American food with a Japanese feel.

Mos Burger: For when I want American food with a Japanese feel.


2 Comments so far
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Do you eat whale?

Comment by David

The establishments known as “family restaurant” in Tokyo serve many authentic Japanese dishes. You have probably visited some of these restaurants. Jonathan among them is my favorite. Even Denny’s has great local dishes.

Comment by Sadao

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