Graduation Cake

March 7th, Thursday:

DSCN4360

  • Pork Udon (Udon, Pork, Naruto Surimi, Onion, Beancurd, Carrot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Beansprout Namul (Beansprout, Carrot, Spinach)
  • Graduation Celebration Cake
  • Kcal: 874

The graduation ceremony is soon! Let’s celebrate with feelings of congratulations and gratitude towards the 6th graders who have helped us so much and 9th graders for whom this will be their last school lunch.

Namul is a type of Korean dish, but it wasn’t spicy at all: rather it was blanched vegetables seasoning in a vinegary sesame dressing. It was delicious, as the girl next to me pointed out today. We also had cake, which was one of 日東’s Friends Sweets line. It didn’t list the ingredients on the box, but all the other Friends Sweet line are made from local ingredients/rice flour so this probably was too. It tasted pretty good, a little bit lighter than a standard Japanese cake. Most of the students liked it a lot, although one of them complained that it was too sweet.

I have an insatiable sweet tooth, but it pains me to confess, I don’t like cake so much. I love butter cream frosting. And the bread-like castella variety of cakes are very nice. But a typical white/yellow cake, especially when covered in whipped cream frosting, has nothing to recommend. Please give me a soft cookie, daikfuku, fruit pie, or nerikeri instead. When I was a child, my mother used to make my brother and I (we have the same birthday!) a cake, but once my brother moved out, I started asking for fruit pie instead, and every year we would have apple or some other type of pie.

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肉うどん
牛乳
もやしのナムル
卒業お祝いケーキ

Crab Salad

March 6th, Wednesday:

DSCN4357

  • Pork Rice Bowl (Pork, Onion, Bell Pepper, Shimeji Mushroom)
  • Milk
  • Miso Soup (Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Japanese-style Salad (Octopus, Cucumber, Wakame Seaweed, Imitation Crab)
  • Kcal: 822

The condition of when someone or something is sought after by many people is said “hippari-dako (stretched octopus)”. This comes from the fact that when making dried octopus, their legs are pulled out in all directions to dry them.

I am not sure what was so Japanese about today’s salad, given it was dressed in mayonnaise, but it was full of crab-mayo deliciousness. That said, it wasn’t all that popular with the students. I think a lot of them were put off by the looks of it. Also, students who dislike cucumbers are surprisingly common.

豚丼
牛乳
みそ汁
和風サラダ

Lunch in the Office

March 5th, Tuesday:

DSCN4354

  • Creamed Corn Soup (Corn, Onion, Parsley)
  • Healthy Salad (Burdock, Carrot, Water Mustard, Goa’uld Babies)
  • Oven Baked Chicken
  • Milk Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 861

The flesh of onions is soft and includes much water. Also, the spicy part of the onion that agitates the eyes helps our blood flow well, and thus is useful for prevent lifestyle diseases.

I didn’t eat school lunch today, so above is a picture of the bento I brought to work. It consists of local “Star Dream” (星の夢) rice topped with furikake my friend gave me, with a side dish of some tuna mixed with corn and miso pickles I made from carrot and daikon. Lately I’ve been really in love with me miso pickles, being they are cheap, easy to make, and delicious. For dessert, I had half a diamond rice cake, not pictured. It’s a tradition to eat diamond rice cakes during the Festival of the Peaches, which was last Sunday. This means that when I went shopping on Monday, the leftover rice cakes were half off! so I bought one.

When I was growing up, we didn’t go to the store that often. My mother is a fan of costco, which meant we bought in bulk and used it for awhile. Similarly  my grandfather lived rather rural so in a similar manner, he would drive into town, buy necessities for a month or two and then drive back. I have a theory that this American habit stems from pioneer days when the closest store was a day or two wagon ride away. But in Japan, it is common to go to the store often, a housewife might go everyday or even more than once a day. The sale system in Japanese stores encourages this: Often they have timed sales, where an item is on sale but only for a couple hours. So you must go then to get those items. Also, there is a stronger culture of walking/ public transportation in Japan, so your strength limits how much you can buy in a single trip, although I have seen some grandmothers riding tricycles or pulling sleds filled with groceries before. And finally, I think a buying-in-bulk culture was prevented from developing by merchants directly visiting the house, which even common today.

クリームコーンスープ
健康サラダ
チキンオーブン焼き
ミルクパン
牛乳

Mahimahi

March 4th, Monday:

DSCN4350

  • Miso Soup (Onion, Cabbage, Carrot)
  • Simmered Hijiki and Atsuage (Hijiki Seaweed, Atsuage, Carrot, Green Bean, Konnyaku, Chicken)
  • Breaded Teriyaki Mahimahi
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 814

Hijiki is a a food lots of Calcium and Iron, for which we need to build strong bones and prevent anemia. It also has a lot of zinc, which prevents distortion of our sense of taste.

Hijiki and atsuage is yummy! Today, I told my students that we call the fish today, “mahimahi” and they thought that was pretty amusing. Like Hawaiian, Japanese has many words made of repeating sounds, but most of them are onomatopoeia, so a word like “mahimahi” sounds a bit strange as a fish’s name. That said, it was tasty.

Anyway, I was reading a book about Moribe, a Japanese philosopher back in the day who stressed the importance of not abandoning Japanese classics in favour of Chinese\Western books. He argues that, in Japan, Japanese classics should be considered the base of knowledge but that foreign books are nice for supplementing them. And he compares this eating etc:

“Rice and fish are enough to fill one’s belly, but how much more satisfying it is to have vinegary dishes and seasoned vegetables. In much the same way, a man who already has a wife is still happy upon acquiring a concubine.”

I think this is an interesting quote, because it illustrates that in Moribe’s time, rice and fish were considered the basis of diet, and vegetables were considered more of a delicious addition, like dessert. Perhaps that mindset still as influence today, and explains why vegetables are better received by most Japanese children?

I love you Moribe!!!

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みそ汁
ひじきと厚揚げの煮物
シイラ照焼味フライ
ごはん
牛乳

Catching Colds

March 1st, Friday:

DSCN4341

  • Midakusan Soup (Potato, Tofu, Konnyaku, Burdock, Carrot, Onion)
  • Simmered Daikon and Mincemeat (Daikon Radish, Pork, Edamame)
  • Salt-Broiled Pentacerotidae
  • Wakame Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 779

Shiitake that are dried in the sunlight become “Dried Shiitake”. When drying them in sunlight, their scent and flavour as well as their nutrition increases. Since they get all wrinkled up when drying, that is very strange.

I am a little confused why kyuushoku dayori above talks about shiitake, since today’s dish didn’t seem to include any mushrooms, shiitake or otherwise. Although the soup broth may have been shiitake based?

Anyway, the other day I was reading some of the papers posted in the classroom. It is common for each student to write their goals for the term at the beginning and then hang them all along the walls of the class. In this class room, the students each wrote two things they wanted to do (say good morning to fellow students, raise their test scores, etc.) and two things they wanted to avoid (forgetting things, bullying others etc.). One of the students wrote for the latter than he wanted to not catch a cold.

I thought this was interesting because–to me–catching a cold is not really something you have a lot of control over. Yes, you can wash your hands and gargle, but I don’t know, I seem to always catch the cold anyway. But actually, I think this sort of statement is an element of a broader way of thinking in Japan. For example, in America I think, if you are late but you have a good excuse, then you are forgiven since it wasn’t your fault. But in Japan, even if you have a good excuse, you are still held responsible for being late. So I think it is the same with catching a cold: even though it is not your fault, you are still responsible. I am reminded of a quote by Yoshida Shoin:

飲食男女の欲を縦にし、疾病を生じ、懶惰に陥り、気根を弱くしては、武士道が闕くるなり
Desiring food and drink or fine company, yielding to sickness, falling into idleness, or failing in willpower is the waning of bushido.

Getting sick is included along side vices like being lazy, a glutton, or a womanizer…【・_・?】

This way of thinking is has its merits and faults. On the good side, we can control a lot more things in our life than we think, and this way of thinking encourages responsibility and industriousness. On the bad side, it puts a great deal of pressure on people for things that they might not be able to control and this can lead to suicide. I imagine the important thing is to still hold people responsible, but never forget to temper it with compassion.

Wakame Gohan

Wakame Gohan

みだくさん汁
大根のそぼろ煮
つぼ鯛の塩焼き
わかめごはん
牛乳

Shinjuku Dog

February 28th, Thursday:

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  • Vegetable Miso Ramen (Ramen, Pork, Bean Sprouts, Bamboo Shoots, Chinese Cabbage, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Fried As You Like
  • Cheese Waffle
  • Kcal:861

It is only a few weeks until graduation, so we tried our best to serve desserts. Today, at the close of February,  we have the calcium rich Cheese Waffle. It’s faintly salty flavour is exquisite!

The Cheese Waffle today was technically called a “Shinjuku Dog”. It was like a hot dog, except the bun was a waffle and the sausage was a stick of cheese. The cheese was indeed slightly salty and the waffle sweet, so it was an interesting combination of flavours. The okonomi-age (Fried As You Like) was pretty popular with my students today. One of them commented it tasted like tako-yaki (savoury octopus donuts) and I feel it is a fairly accurate comparison.

Today was a smaller school, so during lunch the students hosting the lunch radio program usually interview someone, another student or teacher. Today, they interviewed the English teacher, so she answered some of the questions in English and gave a short speech encouraging the soon to be graduating third-years. So I thought it occurred quite nicely.

After lunch, I noticed one of the teachers using a sort of tool at his desk. I asked him about it and it was an electric eraser. He said that when we make a mistake with a pen, normally we use white out to fix it. But we cannot use white out on important documents, so we can use this electric eraser. It works basically by scratching away the thin top layer of a sheet of paper, we have to be careful not accidentally scratch a whole hole through the paper when using it. I thought it exemplified a fastidiousness for which Japan is often renowned.

みそ野菜ラーメン
牛乳
お好み揚げ
チーズワッフル

1024

February 27th, Wednesday:

DSCN4329

  • Bean Curry Rice (Soybeans, Garbanzo Beans, Pork, Carrot, Onion, Mushrooms)
  • Milk
  • Acerola Julee and Milk Jelly (Acerola Julee, Milk Jelly)
  • Neatly Simmered Drumette
  • Kcal: 1042

Chickpeas (Garbanzo) are delicious is simmered dishes and salads too. The word garbanzo is what they are called in Spanish. What a powerful sounding name!

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are called hiyoko-mame in Japanese. This literally means “chick peas”, which makes me think the the name was likely just literally translated into Japanese when they were first introduced into Japan. The name “chick peas” itself is a sort of amalgam between exactly what it sounds like and the Latin term for the plant “cicer”.

ビーンズカレーライス
牛乳
アセロラジュレミルク寒天あえ
手羽元さっぱり煮

Milk Maid

February 26th, Tuesday:

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  • Consomme Soup(Chinese Cabbage, Onion, Carrot, Ham)
  • Cod Roe Spaghetti (Spaghetti, Shrimp, Bell Pepper, Cod Roe)
  • Breaded Bean Patty
  • Milk Make (Chocolate)
  • Butter Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 815

“Milk Make” makes its appearance. Squeeze it into the milk carton through the straw hole, but before you do this, take a sip of the milk first to prevent extra milk from spilling out. Then put in the milk make, mix it well, and drink it up.

Today’s breaded bean patty had a slightly sweet taste. It wasn’t overly popular with the boys. Previously, when we have had cod roe spaghetti, there were more eggs I felt. I don’t know where the name for the chocolate milk syrups comes from: literally it is “Mirumeiku” so I thought that sounded like “milk make”. But I don’t know. It comes in a tube that looks just like the tubes of chocolate you can buy for cake decorating. In fact, I wonder if it isn’t practically the same thing. That said, I can’t drink milk, and thus I gave my milk make away, and didn’t drink it.

Speaking of milk and its derivatives, yesterday I ate a sweet. It looked like it was sweet potato sweet, but actually under the sweet potato was a great deal of whipped cream. I should have just thrown the whole sweet out when I discovered this, but no: I still ate it. So  last night and today I have a very unhappy stomach ache. WHY DO COMPANIES MAKE INEDIBLE CREAM SWEETS SO DELICIOUS LOOKING!!!! ~(>_<~)

Today's Chocolate Milk "Milk Make"

Today’s Chocolate Milk “Milk Make”

Cod Roe Spaghetti

Cod Roe Spaghetti

A picture from where I sat at the foot of the table.

A picture from where I sat at the foot of the table.

  • コンソメスープ
  • たらこスパゲッティ
  • 豆いっぱいフライ
  • ミルメイク(ココア)
  • バターパン
  • 牛乳

Plummy! Simmered Saury

February 25th, Monday:

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  • Scallop Soup (Scallop, Tofu, Carrot, Chinese Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Simmered Dried Sliced Daikon (Dried Sliced Daikon, Satsuma-age, Hijiki Seaweed, Carrot, Green Bean, Sliced Konnyaku)
  • Plum Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 846

Tofu 「豆腐」 is a food handed down from China.  The character fu 「腐」does not mean “rotten” in China, but means “something gathered from a liquid to make something firm out of something soft”.

To explain what the kyuushoku tayori means by the above, I should say that 腐 means rotten in modern Japanese, so the characters for tofu seem to literally say “rotten beans”, which does not sound the most appealing.

Anyways, the saury fish today is not that beautiful and rather hard to eat, but being plum-simmered gives it a really nice taste. I say this as a very picky eater. So frightening to behold, but delicious. I like hijiki and satsuma-age and konnyaku so much, so I really liked the simmered daikon, but judging from my students plates, the saury was far more popular than the daikon….

Other exciting things today was one of the boys split his entire soup all across his lap and we got to eat ぼっけもんsweets by 風月堂 from Kagoshima prefecture, since the superintendent brought them back as omiyage! I ate it before I could take a picture. I’m sorry.

  • ほたて汁
  • 切り干し大根煮
  • さんまの梅煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Chinese Food

February 22nd, Friday:

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  • Chinese-style Vegetable Soup (Chicken, Cabbage, Bean Sprouts, Bamboo Shoots, Shiitake Mushroom, Carrot)
  • Bansansu (Cucumbers, Ham, Carrot, Harusame, Egg)
  • Grilled Dumplings
  • Sesame Hijiki
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 778

Bansansu is a thinly cut vegetable, ham, and glass noodle salad. It is dressed in shoyu, vinegar, beet sugar, sesame oil, and mustard paste. It has a Chinese taste.

So today’s lunch is obviously a Chinese style lunch. I tried looking up what Chinese dish “bansansu” originally comes from, but I didn’t easily find an answer. One of the first results though was a recipe for “school lunch basansu“, which the writer recreated from her memories of the bansansu she enjoyed eating in school lunch. I also found the blog of an elementary school which explained that the word “bansansu” comes from Chinese  and means three ingredients (“san”) cut finely (“su”) and mixed together (“su”).

Higashi Miyagino Elementary School's Bansansu Lunch!

Higashi Miyagino Elementary School’s Bansansu Lunch!

Furano's Bansansu Salad!

Furano’s Bansansu Salad!

 

中華味野菜スープ
バンサンスー
焼きギョウザ
ごまひじき
ごはん
牛乳