Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Food theme

It's Golden Week here in Japan, which means that people have several days off in a row. It's a holiday that most people look forward to because they finally get a rest. I, on the other hand, have opted to work during Golden Week. What was I thinking? I've been working much too much lately, and could have used a few days to catch my breath and relax.

Anyway, I did manage to go out with a friend last night and had a fabulous dinner in Shibuya. I have no idea what the name of the place was. Fortunately, my friend speaks fluent Japanese, so she was able to read the menu to me. That's the area where I have the most difficulty in "assimilating" as one person commented in my blog.

Even though my camera doesn't take such great closeups, I'm posting a couple of pictures just to give you an idea of some of the yummy stuff we ate.

While the food was quite delicious, the service was, um, OK, I'll go ahead and say it: strange! We were seated at an ultra-tiny table, yet the staff brought almost everything we ordered at the same time! It presented a balancing act. Why would a restaurant do that?

Despite this minor problem, we managed to enjoy our meal of wonderfully fresh sushi, including scallops, which I've never eaten raw before. They were quite delicate, and the lemon slices between the pieces gave a beautiful lemony taste. We also had a Nicoise salad--although it wasn't anything like a real Nicoise salad, except that it did have tuna in it. Just so-so on that one because the dressing was very nondescript.

We also ate very delicious little salmon rolls, wrapped in paper-thin tofu "skins" and filled with cream cheese. They were very tasty.

So, it was nice to get out and play for a few hours. I've recently worked a couple of 18-hour days, trying to finish up a book writing project. In the past four months, I've been involved in seven book projects, and the pace is sometimes crazy! This is work I do in my "spare" time when I'm not teaching.

I think it's been a little too much for me recently because I seem to have developed asthma. I rarely ever get sick, so it's kind of annoying, and I've never had asthma before! It's probably due to being extra tired, and to all the crud in the air here. I've read that asthma has become a real problem in Japan lately. Some people tell me I should wear a mask--seen all too often here in Tokyo--but there's just something about wearing a mask that seems too strange to my Western mind.

So, instead, I use my inhalers and try to keep going. I should have taken Golden Week off!


Adam Lee Dalziel said...

I am moving to japan to teach soon - the food scares me the most - more than the language barrier - as I am learnign the language beofre I go - I hoep I can survive without visiting mac-donalds every day - I hate that place - What is the italian food like there in japan - I hear they love it ?

Please let me know at my blog -

Absolutely Tokyo! said...

Hi Adam,
Well, I love the food in Japan! I've had many really wonderful kinds of food since living here. It's not all sushi and weird stuff, although I like most of the sushi and weird stuff. Still not into natto, though. Ugh.

The Italian food, what I've had of it, is not like what I've eaten in Italy, but some of it is quite good, although I don't care for the ham in spaghetti. Somehow they heard "hamburger" and decided we were really saying "ham." Can't figure out how ham got put into spaghetti sauce.
Like any major city around the world, you can eat almost anything in Tokyo! There's every ethnic food imaginable, although with its own unique Japanese twist.

I almost never eat at fast food places. Can't stand them, and one of the worst (to me, anyway) is Moss Burger. Even the name makes me cringe, but lots of people love them.

If you try eating what the "locals" eat, you'll have a great experience in Japan. Isn't that what living abroad is all about. . .actually experiencing a country in all its richness? Japanese food is, in general, quite healthy (with the exception of all that deep-fried, breaded stuff). So, live it up and try everything (except maybe natto)!

The only cautionary note I would give you is to be careful about buying food that has been sitting out on a shelf, unrefrigerated, for a few hours. For some reason, Japanese don't seem to mind that, but I've had a few too many experiences with eating food that's gone a little off. . .definitely NOT good, especially when you're in the middle of teaching a class and need to run to the bathroom! Most Japanese call it "influenza" but I call it "food poisoning!" In the U.S. food must be held at certain "safe" temperatures--either refrigerated, or heated--but Japan doesn't have such a law so you'll see many shops that have food sitting out on tables or shelves, at room temperature, for who knows how many hours!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your stay in Japan! It's an incredible place and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything!


Gaijin Girl said...

Hi AT,

It does sound as though you need a break! I hope you're ok. I have a few days off for Golden Week and I am making the most of the opportunity of being out of the fake heated/cooled environment and fluro lights. I swear I have aged 5 years over the last 12 months, and I put it down to the above conditions.

Your photos of the food look very yummy, indeed. I'd love to hear about your book projects.

Look after yourself,
GG. x