As easy as it might be to believe that, especially as a student, I have just been living off instant ramen (noodles), I can fight against that! In my tiny kitchen, with its one rubbish IH hot plate and my tiny fridge with a freezer the size of a small lunchbox, I have actually managed to cook proper food in the last few months.
Sometimes I’ve been cooking food that I know: pasta, bolognaise, teriyaki (yeah, I know it’s Japanese but I’ve been making it from scratch at home for a while), carbonara.
Other times I have made new things: Hokkaido Shichu (a kind of creamy stew), Japanese curry, etc.
Spot the plaster – this is what happens when you try to chop up pumpkin with a sharp knife….
I have also managed to prove that you don’t need fancy tools to make food. I managed to make a couple of batches of English muffins (cooking them in a frying pan) – this was inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off. I also managed to make a passable soup (pumpkin and sweet potato) using a sieve to puree it. Ok, so the last one didn’t taste as food as I’d hoped, but it was ok.
Sorry, this post is a bit of an interlude. Nothing very interesting has happened lately. Although I will hopefully come up with something knew for next week – maybe the fact that the small British colony here will be celebrating Bonfire Night tonight with a total of 8 sparklers, aren’t we awesome? If we can find some decent fireworks, we’ll have a proper bonfire, but these are yet to be found 😦 Well until next time, またね！
Days to go: 31!
I’ve only been to Japan for a grand total of 4 weeks over the last 2 years, but there is so much I find myself missing while I’m back in the UK. Seriously, I get withdrawal symptoms the minute I get on the plane home. Attempting to copy stuff here just doesn’t cut it, either, it’s just not ‘Japan’ enough.
So in no particular order, my Japan cravings (which will be fulfilled the minute I get back into the country:
1. Osakan food
Ok, so I won’t be able to fulfil this one quite as soon as I get to Japan, but I’ll be working on it! Basically, some of the best food you will ever taste comes from Osaka – it’s the atmosphere as well as the food, since Osakan’s are ridiculously friendly! Some of the best Osakan food I’ve tasted is either Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki (and yes I know they’re not only Osakan but they are famous for them!).
I’ve tried making Takoyaki (rather unsuccessfully with a Pop-cake make) and they didn’t taste as good as when I made them with my host-family last year…Octopus covered in batter and then seaweed/dried fish tastes better than it sounds. I can’t wait have Takoyaki in Osaka again.
These are basically little sandwiches that are sealed at the edges and contain a vast array of interesting flavours: maple syrup and butter, hamburger, curry, egg. You name it, there’s probably a Ranchipakku with it in! My favourite is the hamburger one, it’s so yummy (mostly because it was eaten at the top of Mt. Rokko)
3. Manga at an affordable price/Book Off! stores
Book off. What can I say? I would live in this store if I could. It basically sells second-hand books and manga at ridiculous prices (100-500 yen), but the Japanese second-hand isn’t like the UK second-hand. We’re quite happy to give a book into a charity-shop/car-boot sale a bit crumpled, a couple of pages torn maybe. These books are in almost pristine condition!
4. Punctual public transport
If a train says it’s gonna arrive at 10.38, it will (unless someone has jumped on the tracks/there’s been an earthquake) arrive at 10.38. If the platform says the train doors will open at this spot on the platform, they’re gonna. Yes, there is the little issue of being jammed onto a rush-hour train, but hey! It’s fun, and you don’t have to hold on, just follow the flow of the crowd! Enjoy it (and it gives you and excuse to casually jab anyone in the ribs if they’re trying to grope you – yes, it happens!)!
5. The ‘gaijin look’
This can cover two phenomena in Japan. First is the obvious one – ‘gaijin’ is the slang for a foreign person and, outside of the capital, there aren’t that many about. Ergo, you’ll get stared at most places you go and it’s hilarious to watch people pretend they aren’t staring.
This is a great article about it: http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/10/03/fake-book-cover-why-do-japanese-people-stare-at-foreigners/
It’s also fun to listen to what people are saying about you (pretending you don’t understand).
The other ‘gaijin look’ is a less common, but no less funny, one. This is when two ‘gaijin’ catch each other’s eye (on a train/public place/etc.) and then fervently ignore each other in case you get asked for directions or something. It’s bonding in the worst way!
6. Colourful draincovers
These are a wonder in themselves (if you know where to look). Most places in Japan have their own unique design of sewer drain cover – they usually show a local landmark/speciality. I love it when I find a new one when I’m on some adventure.
7. 100 yen stores
Comparing these to £1 stored here in Britain is like comparing roses to daisies, it’s just not the same…I love shopping in hundred yen stores, especially because they are such good quality – and a great place to get cheap presents!!
What are gatachapon you ask? THESE are gatchapon. Those little vending machines that give you knock off plastic rings and swallow your one and only pound coin? Not in Japan. I saved up all my hundred yen coins and this is a fraction of the gatchapon I bought – there are pokemon ones, blue exorcist ones, hello kitty ones….they’re everywhere!
9. Real Udon Noodles
Udon stand full of random people, steaming hot bowl of freshly made udon noodles, the sounds of slurping echoing around you. Nothing better and don’t you go comparing them to cup-ramen or I will hunt you down!
10. CC Lemon
CC Lemon is the most amazing drink, mostly since the bottle says ‘with the power of 100 lemons in it’ (the cans have less than this, but they’re still pretty cool). If they weren’t 300 yen a pop, I would probably drink them all day, every day, but ho hum!
CC Lemon! I’M COMING FOR YOU!!!