Okay, let’s talk about food again! I’m on a really tight budget at the moment, so after a brief recap of my current food rations, I’m going to travel back in time to the days when I had money to spend on great food that other people cooked for me! Can you hear the TARDIS coming? Wait for it…
Yesterday I made myself a nice curry – it was delicious, filling and really hit the spot. What kind of curry, you ask? Tofu curry – one 63 yen carton of tofu, part of a package of frozen vegetables, and one block of Japanese “Golden Curry” – altogether it probably cost about 200 yen ($2 or so). I cooked it up into a simmering mess of greasy, barely-spicy orange soup, which I poured over my mixed brown and white rice and stirred until I had a decidedly un-Japanese-looking dish. It was so good that I ate it for a snack after work last night, and for lunch and supper today. Sometimes I love Japanese curry. The rest of the time, I don’t even want to see the box in my pantry, let alone think about eating it.
Off we go, back in time, to March 16th, 2014!!! Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh…
This was the traditional Japanese breakfast served at the hostel I stayed at in Takachiho. I am of the opinion that the food they served here was the penultimate introduction to homemade Japanese food and so I feel really lucky – not only that I stumbled across this hostel but also that I decided to order meals too! What a great score!! I should note that not every breakfast was fancy like this – the rest of the breakfasts were rice, miso soup, and various little side dishes. My favourite Japanese side dish to date is “goma konbu tsukudani” (ごま昆布佃煮- seaweed simmered in soy sauce, sugar, sake and mirin until it reaches caramel-like perfection, then sprinkled with sesame seeds). It’s actually a topping for white rice, and can be used as a filling in onigiri. I really, really, really love it, and plan to try making a homemade batch of it as soon as I have enough leftover kombu (+ time + motivation). As for other side dishes, I really enjoyed sunamono (cucumber and wakame salad marinated in rice vinegar etc.) and I specifically disliked natto – a fermenting soybean dish which smells and looks like rotting beans. “They” say that homemade natto is better than store-bought, and also that if you hold your nose while eating it, it tastes good. Even the Japanese either love it or hate it. So “they” say. I have yet to attempt it again…I’ve tried it twice so far and while I did swallow, it was an ordeal to get it down. I’m sorry Japan, I don’t think I can do the nattoral thing. (See what I did there?) One supper at this hostel was my first shabu-shabu (a small hot-pot is brought to you along with raw meat and vegetables, which you dip into the boiling/hot water, then take out, dip in sauce, and eat). Yes, it was delicious!
So we’ve covered the natto…let’s move on to something without the stench of controversy.
Here’s what was served for breakfast at another hostel, on Yakushima. This hostel didn’t cook the meals, but ordered the bentos ahead of time. I have no idea who cooked the food, how, or when, but it showed up at the hostel in time to be served and eaten. All the food tasted okay, but it was nothing to rave about in comparison to the spectacular flavours I enjoyed in Takachiho. I must admit though, the lunch bento tasted really, really good after summiting Tachudake…but that’s another story. Note that the coffee was a gift from a very kind French WWOOFer who was staying at the hostel at the same time. Merci beaucoup!
Next time, read about some very special food and beverages I enjoyed while on Yakushima.