Friday, March 04, 2005

Japan #12 - J-viddles #2

(At the end of August/beginning of September 2004 I took a pleasure trip to Japan. I meant to have all the blog postings done in the first week, I'm now on track to have it done within 90 days months of the trip.)

  1. I can say that our Japanese friend ate every thing that was put in front of her, with one exception. Being the gentleman that I am (ha!), I didn't want to insult our hosts, so I made an extra effort to eat everything as well. In one meal, we had a small little roll, about the size of a couple pencil erasers stuck end to end. I took one bite of that bad boy and my sodium levels shot up about 10,000%. I'd never had anything that salty in my mouth, and I've eaten road salt! I felt bad that I didn't eat it, but when I got up, I noticed our host hadn't touched hers, next time, I figured, I'll only eat something after I see her consume it.

  2. A little story with this one. I'd heard a story in high school that the school I was at had a Japanese exchange student years earlier (so this would've been the late eighties) who had packed her bags full of American junk food because the stuff was unobtainable over there. Fully expecting that things wouldn't have changed (and that is giving a lot of credit to the fact that the story was true to begin with), I was expecting that I would get an unfulfillable junk food jonesin' while I was over there. However while we were staying by one of the Fuji lakes, I found myself in a Lawsons (a convenience store that is, with very few exceptions, exactly like an American convenience store). I saw they had Doritos, of all things. "Well", I thought, "the size must be smaller than the American size". Nope, it was about the same. "Well then, it must be much more expensive". Nope again, it was every bit as overpriced as it is in Cleveland. "Okay, there's no way they have all those funky Doritos' flavors no one buys in the States". No again, they had a different flavor right next to it. Oh well, so much for my high feeling of American superiority! This is, of course, not to take away from the junk food mastery that has been achieved in Japan.

  3. Speaking of which, here were some goodies which could be had a Lawsons and other fine retailers:

Onigiri is essentially a rice ball wrapped in a sheet of roasted seaweed (and sometimes not even that). The ones I had eaten had some filling in them as well (salmon was one, can't remember the others). They fill you up fast, but they pack less flavor than a jar of Elmers paste. If there was a free breakfast at the hotel, it was usually these. To be sure, I liked them, but unlike Japanese, it's nothing I can eat all the time.

These were a series of sandwiches (SANDMICHES!) sold in the stores. They consisted of extra moist, crustless bread, pressed around a tasty filling. The one pictured is my favorite - the whipped peanut butter sandwich (which has a filling that has the same taste as that Amish peanut butter which is just marshmallow cream whipped with peanut butter). The other notable ones were the 'pretty good whipped chocolate' and the 'tolerable whipped butter'.

OMG, these are so friggin' tasty! They're habanero flavored chow mein rings. Spicy hot with a great taste; I have no idea why they can't find someone to manufacture these and resell them in the States. As a warning, the web site for the product contains a monster flash file (it took like a minute or so to download over DSL). The company seems obsessive over this product since they change the flash content like once month or so.

One final note for this installment. Most Japanese stuff was lightly sweetened, and thankfully so. American stuff seems to be sweet beyond compare. However, while on the train one time, my wife bought a bag of ginger snaps, which turned out to be deep fried ginger flavored sugar that was then coated with sugar and then frosted with another sweet mixture for good measure. These were much like the Japanese deep fried yam fries my buddy had gotten me a year or two earlier, which were so sweet that you couldn't eat more than one or two an hour without going into shock from all the fat and sugar. What's up with that?

1 comment:

Jill said...

Interesting read. Now I'm hungry.