Bread Roll

March 19th, Tuesday:

DSCN4414

  • Cabbage and Bacon Soup (Cabbage, Bacon, Carrot)
  • Spaghetti Napolitan (Spaghetti, Pork, Sausage, Onion, Bell Pepper)
  • Butter Broiled Salmon
  • Top Sliced Roll
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 723

The familiar Spaghetti Napolitan! Actually, this dish is a Western dish that was created in Japan. Napolitan refers to it being in a “Naples (in Italy) style” dish.

I felt today’s lunch was sort of “ma….”, but that might be because I don’t really like pasta that much. Well…. I did have a thriving passion for Knorr Alfredo pasta mix when I was at university, but that is really more akin to loving cup ramen than it is to liking pasta. By the way, I love noodles in soup, but it is just when noodles are dressed in sauce that I don’t think they are great.

Tuesday is always bread day! On bread days, the side dishes tend to be Western style dishes. You can see this easily just looking at today’s menu: a bacon, rather than fish or seaweed, based soup; the very western style Napolitan; and butter, rather than salt or koji, broiled fish. (I should mention though some people thought fish with Napolitan was a very odd combination.) Looking at the calorie count, today’s lunch is not so unusual, but on a whole bread day lunches tend to have a higher calorie count as well. However, I like school lunch bread rolls a lot, and while I adore rice and am happy to eat it everyday, occasionally having bread for school lunch is a nice change.

Anyway, the other day I was reading a book called “もっと変な給食” or “More Strange School Lunches” I found in one of the classrooms. It is mainly a collection of strange school lunches from all over Japan and sort of explanation about why the author found them weird. In between the school lunch collection are also some columns talking about issues relating to school lunch. I translated one of them for you:

Rice-based school lunches and bread-based school lunches are completely different.

Rice school lunches and bread school lunches are not the same. Not only are they different in how they influence our health, but it also has a strong connection to agriculture, the environment, and food culture.

Rice-Based School Lunch
Creates a low-fat menu
Rice has no additives
No worries about post-harvest agrichemicals
Supports local farmers
Raises food self-sufficiency
Protects Japanese food culture
Protects Japanese agriculture
Washing up requires less detergents

Bread-Based School Lunch
Creates a high-fat menu
Worries about food additives
Uses post-harvest agrichemicals
Dependence upon imported foods
Loweres food self-sufficiency
Erodes Japanese food culture
Undermines Japanese agriculture
Washing up uses more detergents

DSCN4413

キャベツとベーコンのスープ
スパゲッティナポリタン
鮭のバター焼き
背割パン
牛乳

Advertisements

Miso Soup

March 15th, Friday:

DSCN4408

  • Miso Soup (Carrot, Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Stirfried Bean Curd and Sliced Konnyaku (Konnyaku, Pork, Aburage, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Salt Yeast-Broiled Greenling
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 799

Tsuki-konnyaku (Sliced Konnkyaku) is like block konnyaku but it is pressed out in strips. It’s flavour can be quickly noticed while still retaining the texture of konnyaku. It is often used in stirfry.

Today’s Aburage and Konnyaku Stirfry was quite popular among my students. They seemed to enjoy the fish too. Actually, today’s fish was quite nice, without many bones and really easy to separate from the skin and eat. There were many teacher’s absent today, so you can see from my plate above everyone got nearly two helpings. I can’t eat that much of course–or well I could, but I’d probably feel sick afterwards– so after carrying my lunch up to the classroom I traded my okazu tray with a more normal serving.

みそ汁
油揚げとつきこんにゃくの炒り煮
ほっけの塩麹焼き
ごはん
牛乳

Chocolate Gâteau

DSCN4400March 14th, Thursday:

  • Salt Ramen (Ramen Noodles, Pork, Bean Sprout, Carrot, Onion, Bamboo Shoot)
  • Milk
  • Onion Chip Salad (Cabbage, Cucumber, Ham, Onion)
  • Chocolate Gâteau
  • Kcal: 802

Gateau is often requested. The secret to its popularity is its soft texture together with the rich taste from the cocoa bean. Please enjoy it!

Today’s salad had a surprising vinegary taste. It seemed to be something like ohitashi dressed in an italian style dressing. Also, eating it today, it struck me that we never have processed meat in school lunch, which is probably a good thing. As a special treat today, we also had Ito-en tea. I love Ito-en because I used to drink their Oi Ocha every weekend while eating Kinoko-no-yama when I was in university (I had such a nice boyfriend back then!) I asked why we had Ito-en today, and apparently it was a graduation present to the school from the post-office. Yeah, that is how awesome our post-office is. And finally, who doesn’t love Okome de Choco Gateau!

Tuesday was the last day for my third years at my Higashiyama school. So as it was the last English class, I was able to hold a tea party for them. There being only six students in the third years also made it possible. There isn’t a strong tradition of tea in my tropical homeland, but despite this, I did my best to throw British style tea party for them.

I am not allowed to post pictures containing my students online, but here is a cropped photograph of this poor teacher explaining things over the

Here I am having Tea with my students.

Formal etiquette is something I have always had an interest in; I often used to read this 1960’s edition of Emily Post just for fun. That said I really didn’t learn any sort of etiquette beyond basic table manners at home. While of course my mother would scold us if we chewed with our mouths open or shoveled food off our plates, we didn’t use a knife at dinner, much less learn how to handle one, and eating our peas with a spoon was perfectly permissible. But once I travelled over seas, I realized that lacking the ability to eat in a proper Western manner marks one as a sort of ignorant person. Anyway, my point is that I think playing tea party is a very important part of internationalization too. Finally, I want to say that all the Japanese I have had dinner with have had impeccable table manners.

塩ラーメン
牛乳
オニオンチップサラダ
ガトーショコラ

Chili Shrimp

March 8th, Friday:

DSCN4363

  • Miso Soup (Tamogi Mushroom, Tofu, Trefoil)
  • Chili Shrimp (Shrimp, Onion, Green Onion)
  • Sesame Vinegar Dressed Cabbage and Bean-curd (Cabbage, Cucumber, Beancurd)
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 874

Shrimp are said to live until their backs are bent, so they are a symbol of long life. Celebratory meals such as at new year’s are not the same without them.

Today’s lunch was the best! Note the complete absence of meat. The cabbage was surprisingly sweet, vaguely similar to the flavouring of inari sushi. I liked the chili shrimp too. It was slightly spicy, which means it wasn’t spicy at all by many foreigners’ standards, but even so, one of the teachers worried about what students who dislike spiciness were supposed to do. I personally don’t like spicy foods, and spicy foods by Western standards make me feel physically ill the next day or two after eating them. Really, I think spiciness is something you grow accustom to, so if you grew up in a country with spicy cuisine, you can probably enjoy a lot, but if you didn’t, then it is not good for you to eat it. Japanese food, on the whole, is not spicy at all and tends to have very subtle flavours. This perfect for someone like me, but I could see how some people might dislike that.

みそ汁
エビチリ
キャベツと油揚げのごま酢和え
ごはん
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!!!

DSCN4352

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

Chinese Food

February 22nd, Friday:

DSCN4313

  • 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

Meiji Period Curry!

February 13th, Wednesday:

DSCN4288

  • Old Fashioned Curry and Rice (Grilled Chikuwa, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Boiled Vegetable Salad (Broccoli, Cabbage, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper)
  • Spinach Omelet
  • Kcal: 989

When meat was not eaten as much as it is today, ground foods were used as an ingredient in curry.  Most representative of these are fish sausage and chikuwa. Having listened to the children of olden times, what do you think?

I like chikuwa a lot, so I enjoyed today’s curry more than usual. Curry itself is a rather heavy dish I think, so using chikuwa rather than makes it a little light I feel. Not that it seems to have any less calories. Today’s salad was decent, but without much flavour. It was dressed in sesame and made of “western vegetables”, as broccoli etc. are sometimes advertised as here.

So, today was “old-fashioned” curry, so I thought I would post a recipe I translated from a Meiji period (1873) cook book I translated:

curry

○「カレー」ノ製法ハ葱一茎生姜判箇蒜少許ヲ細末ニシ牛骼大一匙ヲ以テ煎リ水一合五タヲ加ヘ鶏海老鯛蠣赤蛙等ノモノヲ入テ能ク煮後ニ「カレー」ノ粉小一匙ヲ入煮ルコト洋一字間已ニ熟シタルトキ塩に加ヘ又小麥粉大匙二ツを水ニテ解キテ入るヘシ

As for the method for making “curry”, you should cut finely one stalk of green onion, half a ginger, and a little bit of garlic. Add 1 and a half gou water with one large spoon of ox bone added to it. Add chicken, shrimp, sea bream, oyster, or red frog and boil well. Then, put in one small spoon of “curry” flour and simmer for one Western hour. After it is well cooked, add salt and two large spoons of wheat flour to the water, so it is dissolved.

To be honest, this recipe seems a little to difficult for my poor cooking skills, I can recall only lumpy less than successful results from my days when I still attempted to make things like flour thickened sauces. But I do like cooking from historical recipes. For example, I did make a delicious castella cake from the Meiji period recipe recorded by the Kaientai:

BakumatsuCastella

 

ちょっと昔風カレーライス
牛乳
ボイル野菜サラダ
ほうれん草オムレツ

Forbidden Five Spice

February 12th, Tuesday:

DSCN4283

  • Shrimp Ball Soup (Shrimp Dumplings, Chinese Cabbage, Green Onion, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Spaghetti Carbonara (Spaghetti, Onion, Bacon, Parsley)
  • Tokachi Soybean Croquette
  • Apple Jam
  • Coppe Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 923

Five spice (goshin五辛) contains garlic, rocambole (nobiru), Japanese leek (rakkyou), onion, and Chinese leek (nira). Because it has a strong smell, it is said from ancient times to clear away pollution and prevent sickness.

Last week’s cold was actually Type A influenza. So it’s my first day back to work after being in bed for a week. Being all influenza-y for a week didn’t incline me to cook much at home, so it was quite nice to eat school lunch as a change from rice, chikuwa, and tosa nimono.

Anyway, tokachi is an area in Hokkaido which is famous for growing beans. I am most familiar with their delicious adzuki beans, but apparently they also grow soybeans. Today’s croquette was quite tasty I thought: not as oily as usual and with a nice soft flavour. Eating it, I thought maybe it was curry flavoured, but rather it must be the Five Spice they used mentioned above. Looking up “five spice” in English, you will find a different sort of spice mixture that seems to be used in China. This “five spice” refers to the buddhist “five spices”, which we are told we should avoid, because they encourage avarice.

In other food news, this morning on my Foreign Policy site, there seems to be a scandal unfolding about European frozen beef dishes containing up to 100% horse meat. 100 percent! And Western Europeans are not happy with finding out they’ve been feeding their children that. I don’t personally find eating horse meat or even dog meat any more horrible than cow meat. As you’ll recall, I don’t really approve of eating meat in general. What I think is most interesting about this news item is two things:

  1. This is a problem related to modern globalization. Something like this is not likely to occur when the food you consume comes from the same country you live in, much less local farms.
  2. People have really unreasonable biases when it comes to food. As the article states, “the British consumers who are outraged about having been fed Polish horse meat were perfectly willing to buy lasagna made from cows that were likely raised and slaughtered in brutal factory farms and felt few moral qualms about it.”

エビボールのスープ
スパゲッティカルボナーラ
十勝大豆コロッケ
りんごジャム
コッペパン
牛乳

Milk Straw Chopsticks

February 4th, Monday:

DSCN4282

  • Miso Soup (Cabbage, Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Sliced Konbu and Lotus Root Stirfry (Konbu Seaweed, Pork, Lotsu Root, Green Onion)
  • Many Veggies Meatballs
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 868

Today is Risshun, the first day of Spring. The first Southern wind after Risshun is called “Spring No. 1″(春一番)When will Spring actually come to Hokkaido, I wonder…

Today, I have a cold. But at least it’s not influenza. So many students were absent from my class today, that the remaining students couldn’t eat all the meatballs, despite having seconds.
The other thing interesting today at lunch was the student across from me forgot his chopsticks. Instead of borrowing from the teacher, he decided obtain two of the milk straws and ate his entire lunch with them. It was amusing, but he succeeded in completely cleaning his plate.

みそ汁
切り昆布とレンコン炒め煮
野菜いろいろ肉団子
ごはん
牛乳

Hassaku Fresh

January 31st, Thursday:

DSCN4275

  • Yakiudon (Pork, Squid, Shrimp, Cabbage, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Scallop Dumpling
  • Hassaku Fresh
  • Kcal: 701

In winter, we can notice many types of oranges. “Hassaku” is one type. The peel is very thick, so it’s hard to remove, but the fruit is tender and very delicious.

焼うどん
牛乳
ほたてシューマイ
はっさくフレッシュ