Squash Dumpling Soup

August 31st, Friday:

  • Squash Dumpling Soup (Kabocha, BeanCurd, Surimi, Burdock, DaikonRadish, Green Onion)
  • Glass Noodle Salad (Glass Noodle, Bamboo Shoot, Carrot, Wakame Seaweed, Cloud Ear Mushroom, Bean Sprout, Cucumber)
  • Baked Perilla Chicken
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • kcal: 802

Welcome the season of kabocha! Various types are delivered, but those named “kurigatsuku kabocha” are the most popular. The reason is because they have a sweetness like chestnuts (kuri).

Today’s lunch was very tasty! I love squash dumpling soup. It has soft delicious dumplings along with the delightful texture and colour of burdock and daikon in a shoyu-sake based broth. Light, but very filling. Likewise the glass noodle salad has a tangy vinegar dressing and is full of crispy cucumbers and bamboo shoots. Upon reading the menu, I was unsure if I would like the baked perilla chicken, but it had a nostalgic chicken nugget taste that reminded me of an imagined childhood.

Although it was not served as  a part of the school lunch, we had watermelon for dessert. My town is a farming community at heart, so one of the parents gave watermelon from their farm for everyone to eat. The habit of giving extra produce to friends is quite common here. This week alone, I’ve also received four ears of corn and two carrots (cf. yesterday’s lunch). If a person receives more produce than they can consume, they will pass it on to other friends. It makes for a really warm community.

かぼちゃ団子汁
春雨サラダ
大葉のチキン焼き
ごはん
牛乳

Gâteau au Chocolat

August 30th, Thursday:

  • Seaweed Udon (Chicken, Konbu Seaweed, Naruto Surimi, Onion, Bean Curd, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Soy Bean Fritter
  • Gâteau au Chocolat
  • kcal: 773

The meaning of the oft requested gâteau au chocolat is “chocolate cake”. Having sweets appear in school lunch all the time is not good, from the point of veiw of studying food.

The students had testing all day, so I ate lunch at home today. As you can see from my picture above, my lunch consisted carrots dipped in peanut cream, supplemented by a corn-cottage cheese salad and sekihan left over from the Shrine Festival last weekend. Now peanut cream is much maligned by foreigners in Japan, and I think it is rather unjust. It seems to me most foreigners first experience with peanut cream is the mistaken assumption that it is peanut butter. It’s not all, but to be fair it is sold in the jam aisle.  Peanut cream, thankfully contrary to its name, is made mostly of mizuame and crushed peanuts. It contains no dairy, and in fact has much less fat than peanut butter does.

Anyway, when said foreigner discovers peanut cream is nothing alike peanut butter, he feels much wounded and thus forms a permanently negative opinion of it. Peanut cream may not be an ideal substitute for peanut butter, but is serves as a delightful variation on caramel sauce. In fact, a more accurately descriptive name of the product would be “peanut caramel”.

昆布うどん
牛乳
大豆のかき揚げ
ガトーショコラ

2 Mikan Jelly Mix

August 29th, Wednesday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Mame Piyo
  • 2 Mikan Jelly Mix (Mandarin Orange, Sweet Chinese Grapefruit, Gelatin Block)
  • Oven Baked Edamame and Corn Dumpling
  • kcal: 998

The 2 Mikan Jelly Mix has both Satsuma Mandarins and Sweet Chinese Grapefruit in it. It is fun to try and savour the different flavours and textures, isn’t it!

Today, we ate lunch early (after third period) since there was a bus to catch to a special presentation of the musical “The Wizard of Oz”. The message of the musical–though your hometown may have nothing but cows and wheat fields in it, it is still precious as your beloved hometown–is relevant to my students here. That said, this special schedule meant we had less than 15 minutes in which to consume our curry lunch. My relatives, when I have seen them, have commented on the lightning speed at which I now eat. I firmly blame this newly developed habit upon the fact I eat school lunch everyday. Even on a normal day, the actually time for eating is on average 15 minutes.

Anyway, Mame Piyo (lit. Bean Chirp) is the brand name of the chocolate flavoured soymilk we had in lunch today. Usually, dairy being one on the  main products of my town, normal milk is served at lunch. But on certain occasions, fruit/vegetable juice or mame piyo is served. As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot drink milk, so I am always quite happy when soymilk is served in its place. When I was student in my hometown, we were also served milk with school lunch everyday. On special occasions we did get chocolate milk. I also seem to recall there was a juice option, probably POG (ie: Passionfruit, Orange, Guava), which came in a short plastic cup, rather than a carton like the milk did.

カレーライス
豆ぴよ
2種のみかんゼリーよせ
枝豆コーンのオーブン焼き

Spaghetti Napolitan

August 28th, Tuesday:

  • Brown Stew (Pork, Potato, Onion, Carrot, Red Bell Pepper)
  • Spaghetti Napolitan (Fish Sausage, Onion, Bell Pepper, Spaghetti)
  • Pork Patty
  • Side Sliced Bread
  • Milk
  • kcal: 953

When asked about the cultivation of Furano onions, it appears they do not lack for watering through sprinklers. The raising of onions is connected to the weather of the Furano basin.

Tuesday is “foreign foods” day, so all the dishes are in a foreign (usually western) style, like today often written all in katakana, the script often used to indicate a word of foreign origin (cf. below). Brown stew I am familiar with and pork patty (lit. pork hamburg) was a staple in the school lunches of my youth. Spaghetti Napolitan I assumed was some sort of Italian\European dish but upon looking it up, I was wrong. Instead, Spaghetti Napolitan seems to be American. Namely, it is a Nipponized version of military rations circa Occupied Japan. Thinking more about it, this makes sense. Spaghetti Napolitan tastes rather like military rations circa WWII. Yum, Yum?

Speaking of military rations, when I was child I lived for a short time in a refugee camp. We ate military rations everyday. For breakfast and dinner they set up portable stoves inside a tent and cooked these giant tins of food. The one I recall the most was a sort of egg and meat casserole, but I also remember applesauce. I am a fan of applesauce. Everyone would line up with plates and then soldiers would dish out what we wanted. The bad part was we then had to walk to the eating tent. The eating tent was only short distance away but there was a constant wind blowing up dust which quickly coated all the food on your plate. As a kid I didn’t mind so much, but I think it was difficult for some of the adults. For lunch we had MREs, that is Meals-Ready-to-Eat. My favourite was the pound cake. One soldier kindly shared the recipe that if you mix the cheese spread with the cherry juice mix and put it on the pound cake, it tastes like cherry cheese cake. I never managed to refrain from devour the separate ingredients before collecting them all though.

I ate these as a child. Fond memories.

ブラウンシチュー
スパゲッティナポリタン
ポークハンバーグ
横切りパン
牛乳

Country Soup

August 27th, Monday:

  • Country Soup (Fried Tofu, Daikon Radish, Carrot, Shiitake Mushroom, Konnyaku)
  • Egg-Bound Satsuma-age (Satsuma-age, Onion, Burdock, Green Bean, Egg)
  • Plum Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 885

Pickled plums have various benefits such as an antibacterial effect, increasing the appetite, and recovering from fatigue. Today’s saury is finished up by being simmered with it.

Humid days continue…

I am always a fan of Country Soup. It has lots of interestingly textured vegetables, nothing repulsive at all,  in a savoury broth that cannot help but make me happy. I liked the egg-bound satsumaage as well. I must confess I am not very fond of saury to start with (it’s bony and dark…), but today’s did have a distinctive pickled plum flavour which was nice.

いなか汁
さつま揚げの卵とじ
さんまの梅煮
ごはん
牛乳

I won this giant bottle of お神酒 at the archery contest for my local shrine’s festival. It’s pretty awesome.

Mackerel and Cultures

August 24th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Wakame Seaweed, Cabbage, Carrot)
  • Simmered Hijiki and Fried Tofu (Hijiki Seaweed, Thick Tofu, Carrots, Green Bean, Konnyaku)
  • Mackerel Broiled with Salt Cultures
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 747

Salt Cultures are a traditional seasoning of Japan of the zymosis/fermentation of cultures and salt mixed with water. Miso, soy sauce, and table vinegar are also fermented the same way.

Hijiki is truly delicious. It is so wholesome and tasty, that I feel that liking hijiki is most probably a prerequisite for moral righteousness. It seems likely that there are those who disagree with me, but they must be in the wrong. Likewise, today’s fish and soup also had a pure deliciousness. After eating a lunch like this, one cannot help but feel good.

みそ汁
ひじきと厚揚げの煮物
ほっけの塩麹焼き
ごはん
牛乳

Watermelon Jelly

August 23rd, Thursday:

  • Vegetable Shoyu Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Chinese Cabbage, Bamboo Shoot, Green Onion, Carrot)
  • Milk
  • Fried Isobe Chikuwa
  • Watermelon Jelly
  • Kcal: 747

Fried Isobe is when one wraps a food in laver (nori), coat it in a batter and fry it. Or it is dish whose is coated in a batter mixed with minced nori and fried.

Today’s “suika no zerii” I translated as “watermelon jelly”, but the word jelly hardly has a universal meaning. In the US, jelly refers to a fruit preserve or jam that is solidified with pectin. But in the UK, jelly refers to a gelatin desert, similar to what we ate today, that is solidified with gelatin. In the US, such a dessert is generally called jello, after the brand name of a company which makes such a desert. Now let me educate you on the evils of gelatin. Well, not really, but I feel here in Japan, where kanten–a gelatin made from agar seaweed with a long history of use in Japanese cooking–is plentiful, it is better to use that than an animal product.

As a child, my best friend didn’t like jellies at all due to their texture. But as for myself, since my favourite scientist Rodney Mckay is known to adore blue jello, so I must like it as well. The US or the UK variety, eaten with a spoon.

醤油野菜ラーメン
牛乳
ちくわの磯辺揚げ
すいかのゼリー

Bibimbap

August 22nd, Wednesday:

  • Bibimbap Rice Bowl (Pork, Egg, Bean Sprout, Carrot, Japanese Parsley, Osmond Fern, Spinach)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Plum Gluten, Tamogi Mushroom, Trefoil)
  • Cabbage Dumplings
  • Kcal: 919

Bibimbap Rice Bowl uses soybean sprouts. Some types of beansprouts include black mappe sprouts, soybean sprouts, and mung bean sprouts.

The second trimester of school has started again and I got to eat school lunch again after a long while.  My diet at home, as I have mentioned, consists almost entirely of white rice and soymilk. While such a mild diet prevents stomach pain and makes me happy, it is somewhat lacking in vitamins. So the bibimbap–with its multitude of interesting vegetables–and miso soup–with the distinct flavour of trefoil and its soft mushrooms–were a much needed repast.

School resumed on Monday, but I hadn’t any class because I had the fortune to present at a certain meeting for foreign teachers. It was held at the lovely Akarenga, built the twenty-first year of Meiji and more formally called the 北海道庁旧本庁舎. The Akarenga is built, as its name implies, of red brick, and in an American new baroque fashion. Baroque has a connotation of overwhelming decadence, but that is not the feeling the Akarenga displays. She is elegant, but simple. She was built beautifully, but only for the purpose of encouraging good and pure thoughts in men endeavoring to shape the future for the better. Abiding in such a charming building, especially for such a short time, truly reminds me how sad and lifeless modern architecture is.

Unrelatedly, while I generally considered myself a rather unfashionable person, I received so many compliments on my charming clothing during my stay there, I am beginning to think I ought to be more arrogant.

Photographs fails to capture the subtle splendour of such a building like this.

ビビンバ丼
牛乳
みそ汁
キャベツ餃子

Coupe Roll

August 21st, Tuesday:

  • Creamed Corn Soup (Corn, Onion, Parsley)
  • Penne Dressed with Meat Sauce (Penne Noodle, Pork, Onion, Carrot, Green Bean, Bell Pepper)
  • Kabocha Croquette
  • Coupe Roll
  • Milk
  • (Cal: 1001)

“Pasta” means “dough” in Italian. It is made from a hard wheat flour with lots of protein called Durum Semolina.

クリームコーンスープ
ペンネのミートソースあえ
かぼちゃコロッケ
コッペパン
牛乳

Tofu and Miso Meat Paste

August 20th, Monday:

  • Kenchin Chowder (Tofu, Carrot, Burdock, Daikon Radish, Shimeji Mushroom, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Fried and Simmered Konbu and Pork (Pork, Bean Curd, Satsuma-age, Konnyaku, Konbu Seaweed)
  • Tofu and Miso Meat Paste Wrap
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 885

The new dish “Tofu and Miso Meat Paste Wrap” has a base of tofu and surimi with carrots and seaweed that enwrap the miso meat paste.

けんちん汁
昆布と豚肉の炒め煮
豆腐の肉味噌あん包み
ごはん
牛乳