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Eating Japanese Food Part 2
Eating Japanese Food Part 2
To the newcomer in Japan, I must admit that I think AMERICAN food tastes BETTER than Japanense food.
I can hear the complaints already.
What can you mean? BETTER??? JAPANESE food is HEALTHIER! JAPANESE food keeps you SLIM! Japanese food lets you LIVE longer!
THESE may be true. But I said TASTES better. I didn't say it IS better.
I mean...have you SEEN the Japanese food that they eat at times? Not all of it is a work of art. SOmetiems, it is a work of a deranged mad-scientist bent on creating radioactive mutants to control the Earth!
Natto, is a good example. Natto is essentially a bowl of raw and rotting old beans. THey take soy beans and stuff them into hollow bamboo tubes and then, patiently wait for the beans to get...old. When they pull it from its bamboo housing, it looks for all the world like something that came out of a bad sneeze. It is all stringy and runny sticking to ANYTHING it touches. To top this delicacy off, it smells worse than gym socks on wash day.
BUT....the Japanese LOVE to eat this on a bed of rice....for BREAKFAST!
I have asked WHO could have POSSIBLY been the FIRST person BRAVE enough to EAT this crap. My answer has always been...a very hungry monk.
Another is UNI! Uni, by the way, are the sexual organs of a Sea Urchin. Excuse me? WHO thought THIS would be tasty? Mind you, I have few compulsions when eating sexual organs...but...UNI is beyond my ample ability to swallow.
So at times, I find that American food, more often than not, is MUCH tastier then Japanese dishes.
But with one exception.
Japanese school lunches.
Allow me to elaborate.
In America, a school lunch more often than not is shipped in from some other place called a Satellite program. Sometimes it's a hot-dog. Other times it might be a hamburger or pizza or MAYBE a chicken leg. As a side dish, they get applesauce or cut fruit in syrup or MAYBE an apple slice or orange slice and THIS is their lunch. The kids pay for it and eat maybe half and toss the rest out. It is NOT worth paying for and most times not even worth eating. THAT'S why I almost always ate out during school lunches back home.
Here in Japan, there is a twist. Japanese lunches are STILL shipped in from some unknown kitchen, but THESE lunches are GREAT by comparison. What might well be considered a fine dining meal back home, is thought of as a school lunch here. While working at the junior high school, we always got some sort of stew with vegetables and potatoes with maybe even quail eggs mixed in (while MANY foreigners hate these little eggs, I love them). How many American lunches have quail eggs as a part of the lunch? Go ahead. I am waiting while you count the schools.
I am waiting.
Right. I couldn't think of any either.
There is almost always a side dish of rice with seaweed or something topped on the top. The main dish might be chicken or salmon or other type of fish or possibly squid or octopus. I know. you cringe at the thought of OCTOPUS! But it REALLY is quite tasty...WHEN COOKED!
All of these are perhaps a delicacy in the States, but here...it's just lunch. I REALLY enjoy school lunches without a doubt...except that sometimes, like revenge, it is served up cold. Even so, I got used to that pretty quick. In other words, Japanese school lunches are not unlike elite restaurant food. They give you enough to eat and it tastes pretty doggone good.
SO...as for TRYING to eat the UNTASTY looking dishes that the Japanese insist on shoving in front of you, it's not hard to get accustomed to it. It just takes perseverance and will-power. I have created a simple guide to help eat that next plate of uni.
1) Not ALL Japanese food is raw. A lot of it is cooked even though it may LOOK raw.
2) Do not look at it for more than 5 seconds. Doing so deadens the appetite.
3) Skip breakfast. You will be amazed at how good the food becomes when you have not eaten in six or seven hours. And DON'T SNACK.
4) Eat ONLY with the chopsticks. Doing this not only encultures you, but also makes the food that much more delicious when it DOES get to your mouth.
5) Try everything at least once.
6) The food is more afraid of you then you are of it. And many times it can smell your fear.
7) Prepare lots of liquids.
8 ) Beware the green stuff...sometimes it's good...sometimes it's not.
9) Eat American once in awhile.
10) Don't trust your eyes. If it looks like chocolate, it's bean paste.
11) When in doubt on a menu, order chicken or fried potatoes.
12) If it looks pretty, it tastes bad. But this should be OK if you followed rule number 3.
13) The sauces are good, but do not be afraid to ask for ketchup.
14) NEVER put the chopsticks up your nose. It's not funny.