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

Veggie Curry

March 13th, Wednesday:

DSCN4388

  • Vegetable Curry and Rice (Potato, Carrot, Onion, Green Bean)
  • Milk
  • Tuna Daikon Salad (Tuna, Daikon Radish, Cucumber)
  • Pork Sausage
  • Kcal: 1061

The flavor of daikon depends on the section of it. The upper part nearer to the leaves is sweeter, while the lower part has a more spicy taste. In salad, the thick upper part closer to the leaves is more often used.

野菜カレーライス
牛乳
ツナと大根のサラダ
ポークウインナー

Yearbooks and Beansprouts

March 12th, Tuesday:

DSCN4382

  • Chinese Egg Drop Soup (Crab Flakes, Spinach, Carrot, Onion, Egg, Chicken, Bamboo Shoots, Shark Fin)
  • Spring Rain Salad (Glass Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Cucumber, Bamboo Shoots, Carrot, Wakame Seaweed, Cloud Ear Mushroom)
  • Breaded Shrimp
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Coppe Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 663

Moyashi (bean sprouts) are the sprouts of bean type plants like soybeans. They include vitamin C, which protects our body from stress and builds our power of resistance against illnesses.

Before I came to Japan, I couldn’t say I was very good friends with beansprouts. In the school lunch when I was a child, we would have a sort of noodle beansprout dish that I was always a bit dismayed at: mostly because there were more beansprouts than noodles in the dish!  Also, I think they weren’t cooked probably maybe, but I don’t clearly remember. Anyway, bean sprouts on a whole have a very poor reputation in America, but actually they are used in all sorts of delicious dishes here in Japan. They are also quite healthy and easy to grow at home, which make them a very wonderful plant. So bean sprouts and I have become friends once again today.

Oh and another note about today’s food: note the soup has shark fin in it! Maybe it will make my skin beautiful!

The third years got their year books today. In my homeland, all students have the option of purchasing the year book, and the bulk of year book contains portrait photographs of every student, which serves as a sort of record of all the pupils enrolled every year. In Japan, only the third years get yearbooks, and they contain just photoes and messages all about the third years. However, at the Entrance and Graduation ceremony, formal photographs are taken of all the students together, and that in turn serves as a record of the pupils enrolled. The tradition of taking a group photograph goes back to the start and public schooling/photography in Japan. Some of my schools have posted on the wall such group photographs going back to the Taisho period (1920s). It is pretty fascinating to look at them: how the number of students decreased, how the clothing and fashions changed, how the school building changed, and even how the features of the students and teachers faces changed as time progressed through the  frontier period, through the war and finally into the modern era.

A Year Book photograph from the Taisho Period! From my personal collection.

A Year Book photograph from the Taisho Period! From my personal collection.

The charming snow sculpture in front of the school made by the students. It is a mushroom character called "Nameko".

The charming snow sculpture in front of the school made by the students. It is a mushroom character called “Nameko”.

中華かきたまスープ
春雨サラダ
エビフライ
いちごジャム
コッペパン
牛乳

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

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

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

Brown Stew

January 22nd, Tuesday:

DSCN4226

  • Gravy Stew (Pork, Potato, Onion, Carrot)
  • Macaroni Salad (Macaroni, Cucumber, Tuna)
  • Lemon Basil Baked Chicken
  • Coppe Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 1123

Onions–with their three flavours of sweetness, spiciness, and savoriness–are a vegetable Western-style cooking cannot do without: to the point they are called the “katsuo-bushi of the West” (西洋のかつお節). They give their deliciousness to many dishes such as curry and beef stew.

I was in a “Japanese-style Western food” mood today, so I am happy that I could eat gravy stew and coppe pan today.

Today I was reflecting that it is good that (in Japan, at least) people eat much more pork than they do beef. Raising pork is better for the environment and less wasteful of resources than beef.

I don’t advocate for everyone to become vegetarian. But modern people eat far too much meat: beef, pork, and even too much chicken and fish. Really it’s gluttonous. That obesity is a problem is rather unbelievable. Here is a quote from the Swedish National Food Agency:

It is true that meat is one of our most important sources of iron and a good source of protein, but there is no need to eat as much meat as we do today, from a health perspective. On the contrary, it is beneficial to cut down on meat and meat products because that can reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer.

  • ブラウンシチュー
  • マカロニサラダ
  • 若鶏レモンバジル焼き
  • コッペパン
  • 牛乳

Midwinter Soup

November 18th, Tuesday:

DSCN4094

  • Midwinter Soup (Kabocha Squash, Chestnut, Rice Cake, Adzuki Beans)
  • Chicken Vegetable Salad (Chicken, Wakame Seaweed, Cucumber, Cabbage, Bean Sprout, Carrot)
  • Cabbage and Mince Breaded Patty
  • Side Sliced Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 908

It is a tradition eating kabocha on Winter Solstice will help against bad luck and sickness. The kabocha we use were grown by everyone at Jukai Intermediate School.  Please enjoy it!

If you have read my “about” page, you will know that my favourite school lunch item is today’s touji shiruko (Midwinter Soup). They don’t serve it every year, so I am so happy I can eat again. Anyway, shiruko is a sweet adzuki soup with mochi in it, and on touji, kabocha is added to the soup as well. It is really quite sweet so while many girls like it, some of the boys finding it too cloying to eat. Today it was served with bread, which is a little unusual, but many of the students in my class said bread was better than rice. Eating bread with shiruko made it just like eating anpan. I don’t especially like anpan, so maybe I would have preferred rice.

The rest of school lunch was tasty too. The mince patty had a light taste of chives, which was nice and the salad was not a Western-style raw salad, but rather the Japanese-style salad consisting of blanched veggies and dressed in a white sesame sauce. Speaking of salads, I’ve finally realized that raw foods–be they meat, fish, or vegetables–and I are not meant for each other. Not only do I just not like foods raw, but they tend to upset my stomach as well.  So yeah, I was happy eating today’s Japanese-style salad.

A close up of today's Toji Shiruko. You can see some adzuki, mochi, and kabocha resting on my spoon.

A close up of today’s Toji Shiruko. You can see some adzuki, mochi, and kabocha resting on my spoon.

  • 冬至しるこ
  • 野菜とチキンのサラダ
  • キャベツ入りメンチカツ
  • よこ割りぱん
  • 牛乳

Scotch Quail Egg

November 27th, Tuesday:

  • Cream Corn Soup (Corn, Onion, Parsley)
  • Potato Salad (Potato, Carrot, Onion, Cucumber, Edamame)
  • Scotch Quail Egg
  • Cocoa Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 849

Inside of this time’s scotch egg is not a chicken egg, but a quail’s egg. As scotch eggs are a type of dish from England, they are eaten cold.

I felt the cocoa bread was not well suited for dipping into the corn soup, but separately they were good. Scotch egg sounds so delicious, but I feel like the egg is very much over cooked. I suppose this can’t be helped in school lunch, but I still think it is a shame. The kyuushoku dayori brings up a good point commenting on how scotch eggs are generally eaten cold. A complaint I have heard from  other foreigners about school lunch is that it is served cold. But Japanese meals, excepting of course the soup and rice, are generally supposed to be served cold (thus relaxing the necessity of a strict dinner time). While most Americans at least I think would find a cold scotch egg yucky, probably many Englishmen would probably find a hot one equally off putting. Of course, I had never had a scotch egg until I came to Japan, so I am not really that well versed in the matter, and should probably refrain from saying more.

Speaking of preferences differing from country to country, enka is a style of Japanese music still quite popular in Japan, but not well liked by most foreigners. As for myself, while a lot of enka is too “pop”-like for me, lately I’ve been listening a CD called 敬天愛人 (Revere Heaven; Love Man) by the artist Ogata Daisaku. All of the songs are about different heroes of the Meiji Restoration and I’ve really taken a liking to it, so to speak. So here is one of the songs. It is called “Katsura Kogorou”, who was a young reformist who was known for his many daring escapes from the bakufu inu.

  • クリームコーンスープ
  • ポテトサラダ
  • うずらスコッチエッグ
  • ココアパン
  • 牛乳

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