Thursday, March 7, 2013

Food (Tabemono)

Konichiwa! I decided to take yesterday (Thursday/day 4) off from exploring. When I got out of bed my calves were extremely stiff. I guess I'm not used to walking everywhere and I haven't been wearing the comfiest shoes.
I didn't think laying low would be appropriate all day because I could see myself forming a bad habit. I don't want to become a hermit. We were out of milk so I knew I had to go down to the market and also had to figure out something for dinner. The previous two nights we had hamburgers with macaroni and cheese and chicken alfredo.  It was food but nothing special and I knew that I was going to get burnt out really quickly trying to cook American style food in Japan.
I messaged a friend of my sisters who is currently living in Tokyo and I knew that she would have some excellent tips, recommendations, and resources. I was right. She explained some popular dishes and some of her favorites and directed me to several websites and recipes they have tried.
I made my grocery list and attempted to have the Japanese pronunciations with me. I didn't think I would have a problem finding most items but just in case. In my head I knew I wasn't making a quick grocery run. I was there to scope it out to see what they had. I tried to find as many English labels as I could and if I couldn't, I picked an item based on instinct and guessing. I believe I looked for green onions for over 10 minutes and finally settled on chives. As soon as I did I walked past the little English sign say green onions.
I had planned to make curry and rice and some gyoza. Gyoza is a fried dumpling with cabbage and ground pork. In the meat aisle I was looking for stew meat and ground pork. I have never bought stew meat back home so I knew this was going to be tricky. Before I went to the market I watched a quick video on cooking curry and rice and I was looking for the meat that looked like that from the video. There was NO English labels and at one point I think I stood there waiting for magic to happen and the meat I needed would just jump into my cart. Then I saw a picture that I knew was curry and I assumed that was near the meat that was used for curry. I know that seems pretty obvious but over here they use all parts of the animal and I really, really didn't want to make a mistake. Oh did I mention I invited our neighbor, another American player, over for dinner? No pressure.
Next I needed ground pork and thankfully for pictograms (cow cartoon = beef, cow and pig = mixed beef and pork) I assumed the other without a label of any sorts was pork. I thought about asking and I even had my cheat sheet but I didn't.
Then I had to find everything else I needed, sesame oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, soy sauce. And just like home of course there is cholesterol free, fat free, low sodium, etc. For most items there are a bunch of different kinds but then there might be three items with English labels. Again I used my instincts and guessed. At this point I'm grateful that I have cooked back home as much as I have. To be able to recognize different things without needing an English sign to tell me what they are makes me feel good.
Forgot this pic first time (daily workout)
I got started on dinner and was hoping for the best. I can read a recipe and follow instructions so that's what I did.
Besides the rice cooker directions being in Japanese, Brandon figured it out and cooked amazing rice to go with our meal. It was delicious. Both boys liked it and had seconds.I also picked up some ice cream treats that were recommended and those were awesome too.  After dinner we sat around talking, mostly about baseball, but I got to see just how much happier Brandon is with this team. I can't explain it, but it's just different and it makes me happy.
I think this is one of the best meals I've ever cooked. I normally stick to lasagna, spaghetti, or casseroles. I know for sure this boosted my confidence in the kitchen. And apparently Brandon's confidence too because he requested sushi next time. I'm willing to try but I'm not making any promises. Although I didn't get out much yesterday I tried to get in touch with the Japanese culture in a different way and feel that it was a success.
In case you are looking for something new to your dinner menu here are the recipes I used for both dishes. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. you are amazing. I don't think I'd be able to figure this stuff out! seriously, go you!!!