Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Food (Or, what is this?)・食べ物 (何これ?)
For Tea.

I remember when Japanese food was really exotic, something that you couldn’t just get anywhere. Nowadays, you can buy sushi (寿司) in your local supermarket. Times have changed. US eating habits and attitudes toward food have drastically changed over the last fifty years, and I am totally thrilled that I can buy both Asian food and French cheeses at home. But now that I’m back in Asia, I am always amused when I see what the Japanese eat but most of all how Western food is considered in Japan.

You are probably wondering where all this is stemming from. Actually, this started with the breakfast buffet at the hotel. I have a breakfast coupon. (I’m going to be here so long that they actually laminated it which I found quite amusing.) On the back of the coupon, it says, “Western and Japanese style buffet breakfast.” The two buffets are located in two separate parts of the restaurant. The Japanese side is pretty standard Japanese fare: fish, rice, miso soup, seaweed, various Japanese vegetables, pickles, etc. No exotic local foods like those on the breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn in Sasebo (佐世保). The Western buffet encompasses many things that you would find at an American breakfast buffet such as omelets, fried and scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, etc. However, there are a few things that I have never seen on a breakfast buffet. Take salad for instance. You can also add seaweed, sweet potatoes, and clear Chinese noodles into your salad as they are in the salad bar area. French fries. Now, I will give you different types of potatoes, but personally, I’ve never seen French fries in the States. However, the item that got me thinking about all of this was the “Singapore-style noodles.” Last time I checked, Singapore was in Asia, on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula. How does that qualify as “Western?” I guess that since it’s not Japanese, it has to be on the Western buffet. All of you who have lived in Japan will understand when I say, “Don’t get me started.”

Over the weekend I bought a salad at one of the supermarkets. I could see various types of lettuce and chicken, so I thought it looked like a good choice. The truth is that the salad was very tasty, but it was not what you would expect in an American salad. I have come to expect certain things in Japanese salads: daikon (大根---Japanese radish), corn, even mayonnaise does not surprise me. Here’s what was in my tasty salad: several types of lettuce, chicken, carrots, daikon, cubed potato, sweet potato, and pumpkin, relish corn, green beans, green onion, and peas. Yes, peas. Did I mention that I absolutely *hate* peas? And what are they doing in a salad that’s supposed to be good for you? (Peas are not healthy.) Granted, they’re probably better for you than cake, but ugh!

The Japanese take on food in and of itself is such a dramatic category that it would take a million posts to make a dent. As I mentioned previously, I really like seeing how the Japanese interpret Western food, but traditional Japanese food is also interesting, take festival food for instance. I managed to get photos of some on Sunday near Osaka Castle. If you go to a festival in the US, there are always all kinds of junk food: hot dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy, ice cream, etc., etc. I’m always somewhat amused because a lot of the Japanese junk food isn’t that bad for you. At any festival, you will find yakisoba (やきそば---noodles with pork, cabbage pickled ginger), okonomiyaki (お好み焼き---commonly described as a Japanese pancake or pizza), yakitori (焼き鳥---grilled chicken on a stick), yakiika (やきいか---grilled squid on a stick), takoyaki (たこ焼き---dough balls with pieces of octopus inside), and more. Not your standard county fair munchies.


Blogger Tea said...

Funny, but wouldn't the Japanese signs have said something like Wa-fu breakfast, and foreign style breakfast? Basically, and no surprise here, "Us and Them?"

Gotta love iceburg salad and noodles for breakfast! Reminds me of renewers conferences in Kobe.

Oh, and I HAVE seen french fries for breakfast--at a breakfast buffet in Utah last summer. Donut holes too. Yum, yum, nutritious!:-)

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eat your peas, girl...they're good for you. s.

3:59 AM  

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