Japan is a culinary dream, a country that has as many delicious, surprising, and sometimes downright weird dishes as you could ever hope for. I have always nurtured a love of food (…and sometimes a waistline to go along with it), and that epicurean nature has only grown since I moved to Japan. In a land famous for bowls of perfectly chewy udon, giant pots full of comforting nabe, and all the ramen I could ever eat, there still reigns (at least for me) an ultimate king.
And that’s sushi. Tuna, salmon, scallop, yellowtail, flounder, shrimp, eel, clam, octopus, squid…give it all to me, the bigger the quantity and the fresher the cuts, the better. (Unless it’s the unholy trinity of uni/sea urchin/雲丹, namako/sea cucumber/なまこ, and shirako/cod sperm sacs/白子, in which case I will respectfully decline and wait for more salmon.)
When it comes to the cuisine of Japan, it’s difficult to think of a food more deeply ingrained in the culinary image than sushi. It’s almost instinctual to think of tiny handfuls of rice carefully molded and topped by slabs of freshly cut, glistening fish. The art of sushi – because it truly is an art as much as it is a type of food – is basically synonymous with Japan itself, and there’s a good reason for that: its clean flavors, wildly varying textures, and beautiful colors perfectly represents the pure values and exotic details of Japanese society and traditions. Continue reading How to Earn a Black Belt…In Front of the Conveyor Belt→
Remember this blog post? The one in which I verbosely extolled the virtues of Aomori’s winter and romanticized how beautiful it is? Yeah, after this weekend, I am seriously rethinking that pro-winter standpoint. After a monster of a snowstorm stranded me out in one of the small towns that surround Aomori City on Sunday night, I had to shell out nearly ninety dollars in taxi fare to get back into the city for work this morning. Trains were canceled, bus services were limited…but such is the nature of the beast, I suppose. If this – a slightly thinner wallet and a minor headache – is the extent of the grief that winter this year causes me, I’ll consider myself a lucky woman. (As I am running on about three and a half hours of sleep, I’ll also consider myself a lucky woman if I don’t faceplant into my coffee today at work.) Continue reading It’s Not a Proper Birthday Without Conveyor Belt Sushi→
As it turns out, I should’ve waited to post about all of the strange and delicious Japanese foods I’ve eaten since moving here, because the dinner I had last night would’ve topped all the others. I’d mentioned that my school has a lot of work dinner parties, and those at the end of the year are usually of the best quality. Those are the “bonenkais” (忘年会, which literally means “’forget the year’ party”), and all the stops are pulled out for them. Continue reading Testing My Taste Buds’ Limits→
“I’ve never seen a foreigner eat that before!” Whenever I hear someone Japanese utter that exclamation, their voice colored half by shock and half by admiration, I know that I probably don’t want to know the identity of whatever I just ingested. And it’s happened a fair bit in the past year and a half.