July 9th, Monday:
- White Dumpling Soup (Rice Dumpling, Carrot, Tsuto Surimi, Burdock, Chinese Cabbage, Green Onion)
- Miso-Simmered Daikon and Pork (Pork, Daikon Radish, Konnyaku, Shiitake Mushroom)
- Tatsuta-Fried Salmon
Shiratama mochi are dumplings made by mixing water and “shiratama-ko,” flour made from glutinous rice. They have a chewy, but smooth texture.
My favourite foods are starches, that is things like rice, potatoes, and rolls &c. If I could eat nothing but white rice and soymilk sop for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly happy. Of course, it would be a short life because I’d soon die from malnutrition, but I hope you can still understand what I am trying to say. White dumpling soup combines starchy rice dumplings with the delightfulness of soup (my second favourite food), and even adds in the some faithful root vegetables and the wonderful smooth texture of surimi. Yum! Yum!
さて、ever since the sakoku was broken, Japan has been renowned for her crooked teeth. Even today, cosmetic dentistry is not a requisite for membership into polite society. That isn’t to say people here necessarily have unhealthy teeth. Japan has a history of dental care extending back to the classical age. Back in the day, all cultured women, and many men, coated their teeth completely with a sort of black paste. Not only did this protect their teeth from cavities, it had the added benefit of disguising those bony protrusions White bone teeth were associated with death; they were not something to be flashed around in good society. Of course the last century saw this teeth blackening custom abandoned when Americans arrived to exclaim their disgust, “Ewwww! Civilized people spend lots of money on buying our American toothpaste!!” By the way this bone taboo is likely where the habit–affected by so many girls–of covering one’s mouth with one’s hand when laughing comes from.
In modern times, at more than one school I visit, the students are in the habit of not only brushing their teeth at home, but also after lunch at school, using travel toothbrush sets stored in their cubby. I think this is a very good habit I would do well to emulate.
Not to say there are no students with bad teeth. Just has in my homeland you can find elementary school kids flashing mouths full of silver, I feel certain there are children with poor dental health. Upping the frequency of visits to dentist could only be a good thing. (Actually, I am afraid I myself am a bit overdue for such a visit.) But concerning the Western obsession with sparkling white straight teeth, I can’t help but be in sympathy with TANIZAKI Jun’ichiro in his essay “Randa no Setsu”:
“When I see dazzling teeth all lined up in a beautiful row, I can’t help but feel the inhumanity.”