Vegetable Fritter

October 31st, Wednesday:

  • Vegetable Fritter Rice Bowl
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Cabbage, Wakame)
  • Chicken Bake (Chicken, Burdock, Bamboo Shoot, Onion, Carrot, Konnyaku)
  • Tempura Sauce
  • Kcal: 842

I like the Iridori (chicken bake, I’m sorry I don’t like this translation, but I am tired and can’t think of another one), because the light taste of chicken, rather than pork, complements the bamboo shoots and burdock well. Fritters are pretty oily, but that is in the nature of such tempura like dishes, so I still like it quite a lot, especially with the sweet tare sauce.

My friends often say I have a 猫舌 or “cat’s tongue”. It means that I can’t drink hot tea or eat hot foods as much as most Japanese. Most Japanese dishes are perfectly fine served cold, but miso soup should be served very hot, almost boiling I think. I think this is true with tea as well. This is why traditional soup and tea bowls have lids: to make sure the contents do not get cold. Of course, rice should be served hot too, but not boiling hot.

Another thing Japanese prefer hotter than Westerners is bathes. Back in the day, people in the West often said “Hot bathing is bad for you. You will catch a chill.” But that is only true in the case of Western moderately hot bathes. In the case of very hot Japanese bathes, the heat carries over and there is no such danger, even the winter. In this case, the “modern” science of health was less accurate than the common traditions of Japan.

野菜かき揚げ丼
牛乳
みそ汁
炒りどり
天丼たれ

Chinese Corn Soup

October 30th, Tuesday:

  • Chinese Corn Soup (Corn, Egg, Green Onion)
  • Pasta Salad (Spaghetti, Cucumber, Tangerine)
  • Chicken and Pork Patty
  • Koppe Pan
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 707

The color of the yolk of the egg is decided by the food the chicken eats. If they eat food that is mixed with red bell peppers, the yolk becomes a deep orange colour.

Chinese corn soup is like a mix between thin corn soup and egg drop soup. It’s fairly tasty.  Pasta salad is a somewhat unappetizing mix of thick spaghetti, cucumbers, and mikan tangerines lathered in mayonnaise. In fact, the only good thing about the pasta salad is the mikan tangerines, which were unfortunately entirely missing from my salad today. But mikan and mayonnaise go surprisingly well together.

  • 中華コーンスープ
  • パスタサラダ
  • チキンとポークのハンバーグ
  • コッペパン
  • 牛乳

Halloween Soup

October 29th, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Miso Simmered Cabbage and Potatoes (Cabbage, Potatoes, Carrots, Pork)
  • Japanese-Style Meat Dumplings
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 786

The history of milk in Japan is old, extending about 1400 years ago. It was treated as a precious medicine, and it’s high nutritional value was known from old.

This weekend was the annual community Halloween party we hold in conjunction with the public library. Unfortunately  I caught a cold and felt rather poorly, but that aside it was a nice success. In the morning we had carnival style games, including ring toss, bean bag toss, a relay racing game, and shooting gallery, as well as a table for colouring and origami. Before lunch we had the costume parade, which prizes for everyone who dressed up, and in the afternoon, the haunted house. The haunted house has become really popular, with too many kids wanting to go through than we have time for. That being said, it was quite scary with a lot of kids breaking into tears and wails. I enjoy the haunted house the most because as a ghost it means I can dress up in historical clothing and practice my classical Japanese. And really, that is the sort of thing I like to do.

Relatedly, I noticed an interesting thing about some of the children’s reactions. The younger kids, if overly frightened merely cry, but often the older kids, when frightened would close their eyes and say 「ごんなさい!許してください!!」or “I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!!” I was wondering why they might say that to ghost. I think it is an unconsious reaction of theirs, but my theory is it is due to the influence of buddhism, specifically, the concept of karma. Maybe they feel the ghosts are punishing them for some sort of bad deeds in their past life.

That said, I did have a couple sweet little girls who politely asked my ghost persona for directions as well as kindly trying to address her obvious distress. うれしゅうございます<3

Our theme this year was “Spirited Away.”

みそ汁
キャベツとじゃが芋のみそ煮
和風肉団子
ごはん
牛乳

Shore Simmered Soybeans

October 26th, Friday:

  • Miso Kenchin Soup (Tofu, Trefoil, Burdock, Winter Mushroom, Daikon Radish)
  • Shore Simmered Soybeans (Hijiki Seaweed, Satusma-age, Carrot, Green Bean, Soybean, Konnyaku)
  • Mirin Dried Herring
  • Rice
  • Milk

Konnyaku comes from the konnyaku taro, which is related to taro. It has lots of fiber, which prevents constipation and cleans out your intestines.

I caught a cold today.

みそけんちん汁
大豆の磯煮
にしんみりん干し
ごはん
牛乳

Acerola Yogurt

October 25th, Thursday:

  • Meat Udon (Pork, Naruto Surimi, Onion, Beancurd, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Wrapped and Fried Shrimp
  • Acerola Yogurt
  • Kcal: 690

The thing the gives green onions their smell and spiciness is called “allyl sulfur”. Besides preventing colds, it helps the blood flow warms up you body.

Today the second years had their work experiences so they did not eat school lunch with us. Leaving only 5 students left at school, we drew lots to see who would sit where, instead of dividing the seats by grade level. At the bottom of the school lunch menu this month it says:

The local products of our area are: Rice, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, Kabocha Squash, Green Peppers, Melons, and more. So many delicious foods to eats!

肉うどん
牛乳
えび包み揚げ
アセロラヨーグルト

Iron Wafers

October 24th, Wednesday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Tuna and Daikon Refreshing Salad (Tuna, Daikon Radish, Cucumber)
  • Fe Wafer
  • Kcal: 900

Curry is a very popular school lunch. We make it by using lots of Furano products and slowly cooking it up in a giant kettle.

The front of the classroom in Japan is generally arranged in the same way. On the right of the board is written the date and day, along with a place to write who is the 日直 or classroom monitor for the day as well as who is absent or late. To the side of that is written the day’s 目標 or like goal for the day. In my morning class today, the goal was 給食をしっかり食べよう or “Let’s eat all of our school lunch today.” But often the goal is something like, “Let’s do our best to get a hundred percent on the English test!” or “Let’s give clear and proper greetings today.” In front of the black board is a long wooden box for the teacher to stand on when writing on the blackboard and in front of the is of course a podium, which the teacher can place documents on and so on.

While this classroom setup may not seem significant, it is actually quite interesting as it really hasn’t changed since mandatory schooling was introduce in the Meiji period. As evidence, I present to you below some pictures from some antique textbooks I have.

A modern classroom. Not my school, but very similar.

From a reprinted pre-war reader

From a even older woodcut printed vade mecum

カレーライス
牛乳
ツナと大根さっぱりサラダ
Feウエハース

Black Pepper, or rather the lack of it….

October 23th, Tuesday:

  • Consommé (Cabbage, Onion, Carrot, Ham)
  • Spaghetti Carbonara (Spaghetti, Onion, Bacon, Parsley)
  • Oven Baked Chicken
  • Cocoa Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 765

Carbonara is a type of pasta sauce which means “pasta cooked with charcoal”. It’s said that it is mixed with black pepper in Italy.

  • コンソメスープ
  • スパゲッティカルボナーラ
  • チキンオーブン焼き
  • ココアパン
  • 牛乳

Teriyaki Amberjack

October 22nd, Monday:

  • Miso Soup (Plum Gluten, Chinese Cabbage)
  • Aburaage and Sliced Konnyakyu Stirfry (Pork, Konnyaku, Aburaage, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Teriyaki Amberjack
  • Wakame Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 845

Shiitake is the most commonly used mushroom in Japan. It contains lots of vitamin D, which helps our body absorb calcium.

My favourite dish today was the aburaage stirfry. I like all three of its main ingredients, and it was dressed with sesame seeds, which I really like too. But the amberjack and soup were of course good too. I didn’t think to take a picture of the rice lid open, but it has wakame seaweed mixed in with it. Wakame rice quite popular amoung students, but to be honest, I don’t like it too much. I find it overly salty, and personally, you can’t improve of the sweet, divine, wonderfulness of plain white rice.

I talked to a student today, really one of the best in the school, who said he wanted to become a doctor or dentist. I asked him why, and of course money was one of the reasons, but also, he said, that he wanted to be able to know what was happening when he was sick. For example, if he had cancer he would be able to understand precisely what is wrong and what can be done to treat it. It was an interesting reason, and one I can understand. On the other hand, I talked to another student who wants to be nurse. Surprised he wanted to be a nurse over a doctor I asked him why as well. He felt that nurses could have a closer connection to their patients than doctors, and he wanted that personal relationship. While both students are smart, the difference is interesting. I personally wouldn’t want to be a nurse or even a doctor… dealing with sick people all day: bleh. Now becoming a psychiatrist,  plumbing the depths of insanity  that sounds a lot more fun.

So here is a trailer to a book of insanity and madness by H. P. Lovecraft, one of my favourite authors!

  • みそ汁
  • 油揚げとつきこんにゃくの炒り煮
  • ぶり照焼き
  • わかめごはん
  • 牛乳

Miso Oden! Yummy!

October 19th, Friday:

  • Ankake Soup (Tofu, Trefoil, Oyster Mushroom)
  • Miso Oden (Squid Fishcake, Daikon Radish, Konnyaku, Quail Egg, Carrot)
  • Salt Culture Broiled Rockfish
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal:773

Tofu is made by condensing the deliciousness and nutrition of soybeans. Furthermore, it makes the nutrients of the soybeans easier to digest.

Speaking of tofu, back in the day, tofu used to be translated as “soy cheese”. If you think about it, it makes sense. Tofu is quite similar to soft cheeses. Also, we call tonyu “soy milk”, not “soy juice.”

Today was one of my favourite lunches, I think. First of all, miso oden is so delicious! Too delicious for words. It has all my favourite foods in it: konnyaku, kamaboko, eggs, carrots! And they are all imbued with a delicious grainy texture of pale miso. I really like it. I should learn how to make it home. Rockfish has a light flaky taste, with the slight sharpness of salt culture (shio koji). Lacking bones and separating itself easily, it is easy to eat with chopsticks. Ankake soup is a starched thickened shoyu(?) based soup full of delicious tofu and mushrooms. Really, the only difficult thing about today’s lunch was I felt so full after eating it all. Yum! Yum! Yet despite that, it is surprisingly low in calories. 773 food calories might seem like a lot, but please recall that at least half of that is from the rice.

  • あんかけ汁
  • みそおでん
  • メバルの塩麹焼き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Miso Veggie Ramen

October 18th, Thursday:

  • Miso Vegetable Ramen (Pork, Bean Sprout, Bamboo Shoot, Chinese Cabbage, Carrot, Onion)
  • Garlic and Herb Dumplings
  • Baked Custard Tart
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 810

The beautiful orange color of carrots comes from carotene. It makes it difficult for us to catch a cold by taking away excess and raising our immunity.

In English, pudding is a very general word. It can mean a soft milk based sweet or even just a sweet thing at the end of meal in general (in England). However, in Japan, people always use the word pudding to refer to custard pudding or flan. I feel so irritated when people think I should know they mean custard, when the word they are using doesn’t mean custard in most standard English dialects. Hrmph.

  • みそ野菜ラーメン
  • 牛乳
  • ハーブにんにく入り餃子
  • 焼きプリンタルト