September 3rd, Monday:
- Miso Soup (Cabbage, Carrot, Tamogi Mushroom)
- Butterbur Stirfry (Konnyaku, Butterbur, Bamboo Shoot, Satsuma-age)
- Many Veggies Meatballs
- Kcal: 749
Many veggies meatballs, besides chicken and onions, also contain various ingredients like carrots, soy beans, trifoil, green onions, and cabbage.
Today’s was a classic miso soup full of cabbage and mushrooms. Since the weather is quite warm (88 degrees according to my computer’s forecast), eating hot soup only makes everyone rather more hot, but it’s still tasty. And serving soup cold is a horrible faux pas, so it’s better hot than that. Butterbur stirfry has a solid and filling texture. I could see how some people might find it a little bland, but I personally prefer it that way. Finally, the meatballs had a sort of ketchup-ish sauce on them, which was good, but I think I like teriyaki style better.
A difference between Western foods and Japanese foods is the former is always expected to be freshly finished and hot, while the latter is fine cold and can be eaten anytime. Tanizaki Jun’ichiro talks about this in his essay “Randa no Setsu”. Thus the time of a Western style dinner is very strict, and if someone is very late, it upsets the whole situation. But in the case of a Japanese style dinner, the food can be prepared easily ahead of time, so the guests can take their time getting to the event. Of course, rice and soup should be served hot. That’s why soup bowls always have lids and the reason behind why rice cookers were invented. Indeed, there is a Japanese proverb: 「冷や飯を食う」 literally, “to eat cold rice”, which means to be treated be badly. As for cold food related proverbs in English, we have the sound advice: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Relatedly, I’m not sure how much Japanese people are aware of this, much less care about it, but there is technically a proper order in which to eat a Japanese meal. Any respectable etiquette book will tell you this (or at least, all the ones I have read do), and there is an aesthetic reason behind it. Rice, as the staple, is of course eaten first, followed by sampling the soup broth, and then some more rice. From there, you can eat the side dishes at will, although you should eat a bit of rice before eating a new side dish. Each dishes proper taste can be fully appreciated then.