http://sopheliajapan.blogspot.com/2013/04/being-vegetarian-at-japanese-work.html">Being Vegetarian at Japanese Work Parties
by http://sopheliajapan.blogspot.jp/">Sophelia's Adventures in Japan. Sophelia regularly blogs about teaching, adoption, dogs, vegetarianism and general geekiness.
http://angrygaijin.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/history-of-yakiniku/">The History of Yakiniku
by http://angrygaijin.wordpress.com/">Angry Gaijin. Cameron Ohara is a Gaikokujin (foriegner) living in Japan. But get this - he was actually Japanese in a previous life! Now it's all he can do to get his Japanese comrades to look beyond his red hair and tall nose and see the Japanese human that exists within!
Samurai Sushi by http://gaijinexplorer.blogspot.jp/">Gaijin Explorer
. Zacky Chan studies aikido and kyudo, and informally practices whatever else is
relevant. He can usually be found on his days off exploring forests and
mountains on his mountain bike.
I have a great giggle about it now, time slowly nibbles away at all the harsh edges of my experiences in Japan but if I am honest my first day in my new home town was one big crescendo of terror, culminating in a platter of raw line fish, abalone and sea snails. I have never been petrified of food before but here I was between a rock and offending my gracious hosts who I would be living with for the next two weeks. My South African stomach was telling me it was not dinner time yet, my Afrikaans ancestors were wondering why they could not smell at least two types of meat and somewhere over the ocean my mother was laughing at the little madam who used to fussily pick tomato out of her toasted sandwiches. Eventually my neurons worked up the nerve to force my fingers to pinch some chopsticks over one of the unappetizing sea snails. It was everything I had imagined and more, sandy and chewy, slimy and eyeball-ish and in the end, not that bad. I was ok, I was ok with eating sea snails and I was going to be ok with Japan.
Thankfully fear is not the only emotion intimately connected to the three years I have spent eating my way around this island. I have been exhausted as I sipped my 400 yen cup of tea at the top of Mount Fuji, I have been content as I watched my partner bake sourdough bread because the Japanese variety tastes too much like dessert, I have been annoyed at a spiteful crow who helped himself to a chunk of my chocolate cake while camping and I have been furious while eating at Burger king when my dad continued to comment about how un-exotic the meal was after I had spent the last two weeks having him try everything from Sukiyaki to the best parts of the Bluefin tuna.
|After a while Roland made bread baking his bitch.|
Ah but every silver lining has its cloud and today has been pretty rainy. A few hours before attempting this story I had lunch with two teachers who I met on my very first day. These two ladies force fed me little fish and bitter goya, they filled me in on all the gossip as we huddled over the heater and made me laugh an immeasurable amount of times and yet today, due to the shuffle that sends teachers off to other schools, they left me behind. We all met up at the little temple grounds just around the corner from my school and packed out our picnic of onigiri, delicate sandwiches and salads under cherry trees in full bloom. It was beautiful, in that end of an era kind of way and I will forever associate those falling pink petals with those sweet old ladies who made my first three years at my school so much more special.
After all this time, flitting about this breathtaking country I am slowly starting to realize just how beautifully Japan blends its culture and cuisine. Beers start wearing cherry blossoms during spring and even get an extra alcoholic kick during autumn. Summer festivals feel somewhat lacking if I have not at least eaten one crepe and two cups of shaved ice and what would I do in the winter without warm ramen at the local restaurant that I was so reluctant to enter at first because I thought it looked too yakuza-ish. You come across the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to food on this island but I find it ultimately impossible to separate my extraordinary experiences from all the fascinating meals that find their way onto my table.