June 22nd, Friday:
- Pork Soup (Pork, Potato, Tofu, Carrot, Burdock)
- Bonito-dressed Vegetables (Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Sprout, Wakame Seaweed, Spinach)
- Sweet Salt Grilled Mackerel
The bonito-dressed vegetables are dressed with kaeri, sesame seeds, salt konbu seaweed, fine flaked bonito, and sakura shrimp. “Kaeri” are the slightly older version of the dried baby sardines called chirimen.
Due to tests, I ended up not eating school lunch today. So I wanted to talk a little bit more about yesterday’s tart.
The school lunch center cooks most of the school lunch dishes itself and then transports it divided by class to each school in temperature retaining metal containers. However, there are some dishes made by an outside manufacturer and served packaged. Yesterday’s お米で mango tart was one such dish. It is a “Friends Sweets” made by the 日東ベスト株式会社 and made in association with FOOD ACTION NIPPON, a governmental action group. I think the tart is quite tasty and students generally agree: there is not likely to be any leftover. The crust is made with rice flour, which gives it a fine slightly granular feel as opposed to, say, a crust made with wheat and lard. Sticky rice is, in my opinion, by far the best grain in existence, so I prefer it. The filling consists of a custard like cream and a very sweet mango jelly. I personally would like it even better if the entire filling was mango, but then again, I come from a tropical island. Most people would probably find that much mango overpowering and prefer the more delicate custard-mango version.
Now, I am sure you are wondering: what is FOOD ACTION NIPPON? At least, that is what I was wondering the first time I ate the tart. Basically, they are a government-funded group that tries to encourage people to eat in a more traditionally Japanese style. When Japan was occupied by America after WWII, one of America’s main objectives was, of course, to convince Japan to give all its money to American corporations. One of the ways they accomplished this was an intense campaign to start eating tons of wheat and drinking lots of milk. This worked quite well, because Japan has had this weird mistaken idea since the Meiji period that all Westerners are somehow magically always correct and should be assiduously copied. Now, however, the many drawbacks of an American style diet are being admitted to, and thus the Japanese government is trying lead people away from that cake-ladened pathway of negligence and death.
Another benefit to eating more rice and fish as opposed to bread and beef is higher food self-sufficiency. I have heard many foreigners say that food self-sufficiency is “stupid”. The complete imperialistic thoughtlessness of such a statement makes me cry. It is true that in this globalized society, food self-sufficiency is not the most economically beneficial policy for Japan. If the world remains eternally at peace, Japan loses money by buying rice grown lovingly by its own Japanese farmers as opposed to the cheaper wheat mass-produced in America. But guess what? But an eternal peaceful world isn’t likely to be accomplished until at least several thousand kalpas have passed by. With out food self-sufficiency, if Japan ever happens to be cut off from trade with America or other countries, her people will starve. I think righteous people will agree that hedging against mass starvation in the event of a war or disaster is more important than merely saving some money.