Monday, January 12, 2009

Big In Japan

The Travelers Return

Hello again- I'm back from a New Year's jaunt to the Land of the Rising Sun, and my resolutions include eating more like a Japanese person. This was my second trip to Japan (something I never dreamed I would be able to say), and I was lucky enough to explore it with a Japanese friend who knew the terrain, and my boyfriend who was seeing it for the first time. We really packed it in during our ten day trip, and saw Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kamakura and Inari. And the photo on the right? I didn't take it, but I ate damn near everything pictured.

Japan is a culinary wonderland from my perspective. It helps that I'm the least picky eater imaginable, and knowing specifically what I'm eating isn't terribly important to me. I love seafood and sea vegetables, and things with tentacles make me say "mmm!", which is perhaps not usual for Americans (I credit my Italian ancestry; long, skinny countries surrounded by water tend to eat squid). But in reality there is very little that is terribly strange about real Japanese food. Dishes that are delightfully fresh, light and healthy are the norm rather than the exception, and the Japanese insist that even their cheapest fast food tastes good. Nobody has higher standards for food quality than Japan.

With the help of my Japanese college buddy, Ranko, I raided the housewares section of a Japanese supermarket, and picked up some stable ingredients at a Japanese supermarket. I now own a daikon grater, a sesame seed grinder, and a little square pan for making tamago (the egg thingy that comes in most sushi entrees). I'm planning a Japanese dinner party this weekend, so stay tuned to see what I come up with. Ranko recommends roasting enoki mushrooms with soy sauce and sake...I'm psyched...

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