Satsuma Soup

September 28th, Friday:

Heihachiro is so adorable! (≧ω≦) キャ

  • Satsuma Soup (Sweet potato, Daikon Radish, Konnyaku, Green onion, Burdock, Winter Mushroom)
  • Sesame Dressed Vegetables (Spinach, Bean sprout, Carrot, Fried Chikuwa Surimi)
  • Spring Roll
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 838

Satsuma Soup is a dish from the Satsuma Province. Satsuma is the old name for Kagoshima Prefecture and it has developed a unique food culture due to the climate and natural disasters.

I love the Satsuma Province. It is a great place which has given us so many wonderful things. Not only do the Satsuma Potato (a sweet potato) and Satsuma Orange (a sweet mandarin) come from there, but a lot of sweet people come from there too, including Saigo Takamori of The Last Samurai fame and Ohkubo Toshimichi, who went on the Iwakura Mission.

The charming admiral, Togo Heihachiro, is also from Satsuma province. He was really awesome: not only did he run circles around the Chinese and Russians as an admiral, he kept his diary in English, enjoyed British sailor food, made the cover of Time Magazine, and became a God after death.

  • さつま汁
  • 野菜のごま和え
  • 春巻き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

String Cheese

September 27th, Thursday:

  • Shoyu Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Chinese Cabbage, Bamboo Shoot, Onion, Carrot)
  • Milk
  • Potato Cake
  • String Cheese
  • Kcal: 797

The history of sakeru cheese (string cheese) is surprisingly old. About 30 years ago it started be sold under the name of “Sutoringu Chiizu”.

  • しょうゆラーメン
  • 牛乳
  • いももち
  • さけるチーズ

Hayashi Rice

September 26th, Wednesday:

  • Hayashi Rice (Pork, Carrot, Onion, Shimeji Mushroom)
  • Milk
  • Dressed Broccoli and Tuna (Broccoli, Tuna)
  • Omelet
  • Kcal: 930

Broccoli and cauliflower.  Cauliflower was the earlier to be cultivated and is closer to the original plant. Broccoli is a variant variety of it.

Hayashi rice is a dish that resembles curry rice (especially the sweet curry rice of school lunch) but uses a thick tomatoish demi-glace sauce rather than curry. If forced to choose between the two, the majority of students prefer curry rice, but hayashi rice has a smaller, but solid following as well. I myself prefer curry. Hayashi rice seems to be one of those “Western” dishes that were created in Japan during the Meiji age of enlightenment. Where the name actually comes from is from much debate. It may have been named after a person (Hayashi Yuuteki or another Hayashi with different Kanji). Or it may have derived from the term “haya-shi” (quick death, for the poor animals used to make it) or “haya-raisu” (quick rice, to be eaten before boarding a ship). Or it may come from the English term “hashed beef with rice” degenerating into “hasshi raisu” to “haishi raisu” to finally “hayashi raisu”. By the way, sometimes people translate hayashi rice into English as “Japanese beef stew”, but hayashi rice is has a firm tomato taste that never belongs in beef stew, not to mention in Hokkaido it is made with pork over beef, so  I think it is a poor translation.

  • ハヤシライス
  • 牛乳
  • ブロッコリーのツナ和え
  • オムレツ

Creamy Chestnut Stew

September 25th, Tuesday:

  • Creamy Chestnut Stew (Pork, Chestnut, Corn, Carrot, Onion, Broccoli)
  • Chinese Salad (Tuna, Daikon Radish, Cucumber, Wakame Seaweed)
  • Lemon Basil Chick Bake
  • Butter Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 852

Chestnuts originate from Japan and the southern part of the Korean peninsula. Chestnuts that grow wild are called shibakuri (brush chestnuts) or yamakuri (mountain chestnuts).

Today’s Chinese salad had a cool, healthy taste that was surprisingly good, but I am not sure what makes it Chinese.  I have never been to China and know nothing about Chinese food, but at most the chinese-style restaurants I have been to, there have been an abundance of  dishes coated with a sort of slimy sauce. (I apologise to Chinese people for making such a mean statement.) Today’s salad didn’t have a sauce like that at all, which was a good thing. Also while I don’t like meat/poultry, for being a chicken, the Lemon Basil Chicken was pretty good. Finally, the name of today’s stew is actually a sort of pun in Japanese. “Kuri” means chestnut and “kurimu” means cream: So the name of the stew was actually “kuriiiiimu stew”.  Yum! Yum!

So, I grew up on an tropical island and there were no chestnuts there. I had never eaten a chestnut, never even seen a chestnut, until I came to Japan. But that is natural. The weird part is that even as a child I was fairly well acquainted with what a chestnut was. Because there is that Christmas song: “Chestnuts roasting on a open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose….” Why do I know that song? It’s about snow and cold weather. My hometown is 20 degrees away from the equator! The answer: globalization. Or colonialism. They are actually pretty similar things. The fact that I can know about chestnuts even having grown up in the tropics is pretty awesome, until I considered what sort of native culture was crushed to make room for this alien information….

  • 栗ぃ~むシチュー
  • 中華サラダ
  • 若鶏のレモンバジル焼き
  • バターパン
  • 牛乳

Five Ingredient Kinpira

September 24th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Potato, Wakame Seaweed)
  • Five Ingredient Kinpira (Burdock, Carrot, Pork, Konnyaku, Tsuto Surimi)
  • Fried White Fish
  • Rice
  • Milk

The sesame seeds cooked as a part of the five-ingredient kinpira contain sesame lignan, which works get rid of bad stuff from your body. Chew the sesame well to eat the inner parts of it.

Today’s kinpira contained “tsuto” which is a type of very delicious fish cake. I am not sure you can tell from the picture, but it is white with a red spiral pattern in the centre. It looks quite similar to a more commonly known fishcake called “naruto”.  In fact, they look nearly exactly the same. But there is a difference in how they are made: Namely, tsuto is steamed, while naruto is boiled before packaging. So now you know the difference.

Whenever I eat kinpira, I always think of this old Japanese song called “Konpira”. Seriously, I’ve had it stuck in my head since lunch:

  • みそ汁
  • 五目きんぷら
  • 白身魚フライ
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Ginger Grilled Veggies?

September 21st, Friday:

  • Noppei Soup (Taro, Scallop, Carrot, Bamboo Shoot, Shiitake Mushroom, Konnyaku)
  • Ginger Pork and Veggies (Pork, Onion, Cabbage, Green Onion)
  • Breaded Bean Patty
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 939

Beans, which have been eaten from old, are an important food for building our bodies. Last time we had the breaded bean patty, thre were 690 left over. We were surprised because fried patties have a gentle taste.

So the Ginger Pork and Veggies literally reads in Japanese “Vegetable’s Ginger Grilled”. You can imagine my disappointment then, when I discovered the dish was a great deal of fatty pork with a couple onions and precisely one small piece of cabbage…. 😦 Yeah, I was really sad. Upon further inquiry, I discovered “Ginger Grilled” implicitly means Ginger Grilled Pork. Well, it can’t be helped. The bean patty fairly flavourless and oily, as expected, and I liked it well enough. I think I am much more sensitive to strong taste than most people, so the gentle taste of the patty was more suited to me. Noppei soup, by the way, had a light nice flavour. I wouldn’t want to have it everyday, but it was a nice change of pace, especially after yesterday’s heavy curry udon. Contrary to my bilingual dictionary’s defination, the broth was thin and clear and full of taro slices and scallops.

  • のっぺい汁
  • 野菜の生姜焼き
  • 豆いっぱいフライ
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Curry Udon

September 20th, Thursday:

  • Curry Udon (Pork, Onion, Satsuma-age, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Vegetable Patty
  • Yogurt
  • Kcal: 727

Curry Udon makes a comeback! Recently, a lot of curry related cooking is being eaten. Dishes that the school lunch center previously served are making a comeback.

I thought was curry udon was pretty tasty and the second years I ate with agreed with me. However, when I asked my third years about it, they said it was bad. I will say that curry udon is a very dangerous dish to eat. Fortunately I wore a brown coloured shirt today. The vegetable patty had of course vegetables, but seemed to be seafood based: maybe shrimp? I thought it had a nice, light taste. It didn’t match that well with curry though. I hope they serve it on a normal udon day sometime. The yogurt we had today was unflavoured, but still quite popular with my students.

As a child, I didn’t much like yogurt. I mean, it was okay, but hardly my favourite. As a child I sometimes got yogurt in my school lunch. It was usually fruit flavoured, but unmixed, meaning the fruit gel was layered on the bottom and you had to mix the firm yogurt to bring the flavouring up into it. That was pretty fun.  Now, I try to sometimes eat yogurt at home because its healthy. Also, my favourite TV spy eats yogurt all the time, so I feel inspired to eat it whenever I watch it.

  • カレーうどん
  • 牛乳
  • 野菜ハンバーグ
  • ヨーグルト

Milk

September 19th, Tuesday:

  • Minced Meat Rice (Egg, Green Bean, Chicken, Konnyaku)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Winter Mushrooms, Tofu, Green Onion)
  • Shrimp Dumplings
  • Kcal: 779

Soboro (minced meat) is ground pork, chicken or fish meat boiled and separated into pieces plus a plain or seasoned beaten egg that is scattered and fried in a pan until all the liquid is gone.

Again, I didn’t eat kyuushoku today. Instead, I boiled up some soba at home and ate that. For dessert, I had some very delicious 薩摩芋納豆 (candied and dried sweet potatoes), as pictured above.  Note my extremely awesome chopsticks. One says “Boys, Be, Ambitious!” and the other says “クラーク専士” (Prof. Clark) who was a director at the Hokkaido Agricultural College. I bought them at the Sapporo Clock Tower. Prof. Clark’s other famous quote is “Be gentlemen” and Clark himself seemed to follow his own advice. Unfortunately this world is not so kind to gentlemen, and he ended up dying in disgrace. It’s a bit saddening.

So here is a nice little song to cheer you up:

Onaorai

September 18th, Tuesday:

  • Cabbage and Ham Soup (Cabbage, Pork, Tomato)
  • Cod Roe Spaghetti (Spaghetti Noodle, Cod Roe, Shrimp, Bell Pepper)
  • Pork Sausage
  • Top Slit Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 763

My school had its school festival this weekend, so in exchange they don’t have any class today. As I didn’t eat school lunch for that reason, I thought I would tell you about the very lovely onaorai I had yesterday at Shibetsu Shrine.

Monday was Keirou no Hi, or Grandparent’s Day, which was a national holiday. There also was a kyudo (Japanese archery) competition at Shibetsu Shrine to celebrate the 80th year anniversary, so that is what I did. It was quite an event. It lasted all day and about 150 archers participated. The location was Shibetsu Shrine, which is set in the beautiful forest covering  Mt. Tsukumo and dedicated to the kamisama (deity) Amaterasu-Omikami. Events began with a short service to the kamisama and included the main 8 arrow competition plus an ema plaque contest and a gold target contest. Anyway, half way through the competition they kindly served lunch to everyone. As you can see in my picture above, there were individual boxes of sekihan (adzuki rice) along with hot ozoni (a soup with mochi, chicken, and vegetables in it), tsukemono pickles, and soba tea. It was really tasty and more than I could finish. When we received the rice, it was wrapped in this paper:

In the center it says “onaorai”. To the right is a poem by the great Shinto theologian Motowori Norinaga, which basically gives thanks to Amaterasu and Toyouke (another deity) for the blessing of food. To the left reads an explanation of what “onaorai” means. It says:

The spirit of the deity fills the food offerings that were raised up to Her. In order to firmly take the holy spirit into ourselves, there is the “onaorai”, where we eat the leftover food and drink together with the deity. Let us receive with a grateful and joyful heart and partake in the bounty of the kamisama.

Eating with the gods is a fairly common part of a Shinto, and I think it is very interesting. In (Orthodox) Christianity, we have of course the Eucharist, in which the holy spirit is called down and then the bread and wine is considered the actually body of Christ. And many Christian churches have a “coffee hour” after the service at which everyone shares just normal food and drink. So it seems to me that onaori is a little like a combination of those. Of course, I am not Japanese, so I could be wrong. Either way, it was very nice.

During lunch, I sat near a kyudo teacher who complimented my correct handling of the soup bowl with chopsticks, but then scolded me for placing them on my rice container as they are in the picture above. They should be placed on the table, using folded paper as a chopstick rest. I was quite happy that he noticed, and was even more excited when we could share a mutual love for the above mentioned Motowori Norinaga.

Last, I wanted to mention the Lion Dance at the school festival was really amazing. Though I couldn’t get any good pictures…

  • キャベツとハムのスープ
  • たらこスパゲッティ
  • ポークウインナー
  • 背割りパン
  • 牛乳

Squash Tempura

September 14th, Friday:

  • Potato Dumpling Soup (Potato, Chicken, Burdock, Trefoil, Bean Curd)
  • Minced Salmon with Spinach and Jaco Fish (Salmon, Mustard Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Dried Sardine Babies)
  • Squash Tempura
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal:851

Seasonal food is much more delicious. Looking around you, can you feel the plenty of Autumn? Autumn may be the most delicious season of them all.

  1. Potato dumplings: Very Yummy!
  2. Jaco Fish: 😦
  3. Squash: Yummy!
  4. Rice: Always Yummy and Sweet!

A strong awareness of the seasons is part of the Japanese national character. The modern incarnation of this includes associating certain activities with the seasons. In the case of Autumn, it is usually associated with eating, sports, and reading. Eating is hardly surprising, given it’s harvest time. Sports can also be logically explained as the cool but not yet cold weather of Autumn is most suitable for physical activity. Reading doesn’t have a particular reason to my knowledge, but if you have passed your Sunday in the park reading while gold and crimson fall gently about you, I think you should be able to understand.

  • 芋団子汁
  • 小松菜とジャコの鮭そぼろ
  • かぼちゃ天ぷら
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳