Monday, September 29, 2008


I like food. A lot. So, I apologize if the consistent mentioning of what I’m eating/ate ends up in a post somewhere totally unrelated to food. I should note that before coming here I had never had any real Japanese food other than snacks and candy. Ordering food from a cafeteria or made-to-order semi-fast food place is done through vending machines. You'll put in your money, pick a number from a picture wall or food list, get a ticket, bring said ticket to the counter, and then receive your food. The cafeteria at NUFS has a specific area to go to to exchange a ticket based on type of food (noodles, soup, sandwich, etc.). None of the foods in the vending machine lists are written in romaji nor do they have pictures. My homestay mother is a very good cook (it's also her job). Her meals are typically a blend of traditional and western dishes. Dinner is always served with gohan, and it is to be eaten plain (usually).

Gohan: Japanese white rice. The rice grains are fatter and shorter than American rice, and they are sticky. It is quite easy to eat with hashi (chopsticks). The flavor is subtle but by no means a chore to eat. It is considered rude to ruin the purity of the rice by dumping soy sauce, etc. on top of it. Gohan is often seasoned with pieces of fish, nori, or sometimes butter (my favorite), among other things.

Ramen: Real Japanese ramen is nothing like the stuff that comes in the little Maruchan instant bowls. It is long and thin (thinner than spaghetti). To eat it, you grab some with hashi, dip it into soy sauce or something, and then slurp it up.

I’ve eaten from the cafeteria a few times. I try to avoid it and skip lunch because it’s expensive, but it smells and tastes quite good for cafeteria food. You do get decent portions as well.

Udon noodles: 250 yen (I think)
Curry with breaded pork and gohan: 350 yen
Ice cream cone: 100 yen


I eat breakfast at about 7:30 every morning. It consists of a main course and 2 or 3 sides, usually yogurt, fruit (banana, strawberry, tomato, orange, etc.), and something else (like gohan or pudding). Some main courses for breakfast have been: eggs and ham, coleslaw sandwiches, sausage with tomato in a bun, zucchini and egg in a bun, Japanese style pizza (light on the cheese and sauce with pepperoni and corn), and soba noodles.


I typically skip lunch, but Okasan will make something on weekends when she is around, or in the morning when she makes breakfast, and I warm it up later. Lunch is usually one big main dish and maybe a side (usually gohan). Besides cafeteria food, I’ve had soba noodles (with onion, cabbage, and chicken) and ramen for lunch. I had some kind of fish flavored soy sauce with the ramen. I hated it at first, but it grew on me over time, and I think it is quite good now.


Dinner happens at 7pm every night. I’m still in the guest phase, so Okasan is going above and beyond making elaborate meals with countless sides that I could do no more than hope to sample each. Chicken is really common for dinner, either on its own or as a part of another dish. I hate seafood, a lot, but I’ve been challenging myself by trying a few different kinds of fish. I know one was salmon, but I have no idea about the others. I know the others I’ve had are not common to Western grocery stores. I have no intent to eat sushi. Ever. Regardless of how good it may be. Some other courses have been: beef/potatoes/mushrooms, salad (egg, ham, lettuce, tomato, dressing), tomatoes (fruitier than American tomatoes), breaded pork, breaded onions (think hush puppies), mushroom soup (little mushrooms, ham, cabbage, onion), and miso soup. Miso soup and the mushroom soup use the same type of broth, which I *strongly* dislike. Udon noodle bowls also have the same broth, but it’s not typically as strong.

A couple nights ago Okasan made champon, which is the dish local to Nagasaki. It is very good! It’s an elaborate soup created from 10 or so different ingredients (ramen noodles + whatever + a really tasty broth). Historically, champon was soup sold to poor Chinese university students created from that day’s leftovers.

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