Mugicha (Wheat Tea)

March 11th, Monday:

DSCN4349

  • Miso Soup (Tofu, Wakame Seaweed, Green Onion)
  • Meat and Potatoes (Potato, Pork, Onion, Shimeji Mushroom, Carrot, Edamame)
  • Thick Rolled Egg
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 844

It is said “For scent, Pine Mushrooms; for taste, Shimeji”. Very few shimeji mushrooms have a poor taste. Because they are so tasty, they are used in many kinds of dishes.

I didn’t eat school lunch today, due to the graduation ceremony.

I’ve mentioned this before, but with every school lunch, milk is served. However, and I think this only started a couple years ago, a student’s parents can request wheat tea (mugicha) in place of milk, if the student has some intolerance to milk. A week or two ago, there was such a student absent due to the flu, so the students in charge of lunch that day gave his mugicha to me! You can see it is pretty small, only 100 mililiters, and of course unsweetened and without any additives. On the front is a woodcut picture of a mommy in kimono nursing her baby boy. I suppose the idea is that mugicha is as nourishing as mother’s milk?

Also, mugicha has no caffeine  which can be helpful. When I did a tea ceremony demonstration at one of my school, a couple of the students could not drink matcha due to religious reasons. In that case, we substituted mugicha, so they could participate just like the other students.

Picture of the adorable hijiki furikake we had a last month. Little Hijiki is so strong! Look at him lifting those weights!

Picture of the adorable hijiki furikake we had a last month. Little Hijiki is so strong! Look at him lifting those weights!

The backside of the package. It informs us that hijiki has lots of iron and is a traditional food of Japan. I can only conquer with the greatness of this delicious sea plant!

The backside of the package. It informs us this hijiki furikake (that is, tsukudani) has lots of iron and is a traditional food of Japan. I can only conquer (concur?) with the greatness of this delicious sea plant!

みそ汁
肉じゃが
厚焼き玉子
ごはん
牛乳

2 Mikan Jelly Mix

August 29th, Wednesday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Mame Piyo
  • 2 Mikan Jelly Mix (Mandarin Orange, Sweet Chinese Grapefruit, Gelatin Block)
  • Oven Baked Edamame and Corn Dumpling
  • kcal: 998

The 2 Mikan Jelly Mix has both Satsuma Mandarins and Sweet Chinese Grapefruit in it. It is fun to try and savour the different flavours and textures, isn’t it!

Today, we ate lunch early (after third period) since there was a bus to catch to a special presentation of the musical “The Wizard of Oz”. The message of the musical–though your hometown may have nothing but cows and wheat fields in it, it is still precious as your beloved hometown–is relevant to my students here. That said, this special schedule meant we had less than 15 minutes in which to consume our curry lunch. My relatives, when I have seen them, have commented on the lightning speed at which I now eat. I firmly blame this newly developed habit upon the fact I eat school lunch everyday. Even on a normal day, the actually time for eating is on average 15 minutes.

Anyway, Mame Piyo (lit. Bean Chirp) is the brand name of the chocolate flavoured soymilk we had in lunch today. Usually, dairy being one on the  main products of my town, normal milk is served at lunch. But on certain occasions, fruit/vegetable juice or mame piyo is served. As I’ve mentioned before, I cannot drink milk, so I am always quite happy when soymilk is served in its place. When I was student in my hometown, we were also served milk with school lunch everyday. On special occasions we did get chocolate milk. I also seem to recall there was a juice option, probably POG (ie: Passionfruit, Orange, Guava), which came in a short plastic cup, rather than a carton like the milk did.

カレーライス
豆ぴよ
2種のみかんゼリーよせ
枝豆コーンのオーブン焼き

Scotch Egg

June 26th, Tuesday:

  • Colourful Chowder (Red and Yellow Bell Pepper, Corn, Onion, Ham, Broccoli)
  • European-Style Potatoes and Bacon (Potato, Bacon, Onion, Edamame)
  • Scotch Egg
  • Black Bread
  • Milk

Recently, there was a new discovery in Turkey. Many tools that substantiated the making of dairy products were discovered. They were 8500 years old.  Why don’t you become interested in history of zymotic foodstuffs?

Concerning today’s lunch, scotch eggs are really wonderful. They are so pretty and handy! I don’t eat meat at home, but if I did, I would like to try to make such a charming dish as scotch eggs. Today’s school lunch scotch egg was way overcooked, but I imagine that can’t be helped due to safety regulations. The chowder was quite nice too. It had several types of western vegetables, tasted quite bell pepper like and didn’t even given me a stomachache. Plus black bread and chowder are just a really nice mix. I love potatoes, so of course I also like today’s potato and bacon dish. I suppose it is European style because of the bright red tomato based (?)  sauce  used. Anyways, potatoes and edamame are a good mix. Thinking about it, I suppose I am just fond of Japanese style haole dishes. Yum! Yum!

Of the new discovery in Turkey, you can read more about it this anthropology article (bottom half). It isn’t very detailed, but still interesting. All humans were unable to drink milk (ie: lactose intolerant, like me!) back in the day. But this discovery in Turkey found that even though we couldn’t drink milk, we still raised cattle and then processed their milk into non-lactose products, like cheese and yogurt. That’s pretty awesome.

  • 彩りチャウダー
  • じゃがいもとベーコンの洋風煮込み
  • スコッチエッグ
  • 黒パン
  • 牛乳

Eel Saury

June 25th, Monday:

  • Midakusan Soup (Sweet Potato, Tofu, Sliced Konnyaku, Carrot, Onion, Burdock)
  • Simmered Minced Meat and Daikon (Daikon Radish, Pork, Edamame)
  • Eel-Style Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk

The saury catch increases in Autumn. The saury we use in this season are frozen. It is an easy to use ingredient due to it’s stable price. It was cooked kabayaki(eel)-style with a sauce made of shoyu and mirin.

I can’t say that the daikon soboro is my favourite. It isn’t bad, but neither is it very good, in my ignorant opinion. There are fish I like more than saury, but today’s eel-style cooked saury was pretty popular among the boys in my class today. Thus soup (unsurpisingly) was my favorite dish today, although it was strangly onion-y.

A year or so ago, one of my teacher’s gave the students some free time–like five or ten minutes–at the end of class. They could work on homework or even talk with their friends, but she said they shouldn’t read in class. This struck me as peculiar.
When I was in school, students failing to read was considered a problem. Thus we had lots of programs put in place in order to encourage kids to read more. The one I most fondly recall was where you got stickers for reading a certain amount and when you collected enough stickers, you could get a free personal pizza. Going out to eat was something reserved for special occasions, so going out for pizza merely for reading was pretty awesome. But my point is, that I was raised with the idea that any form of reading ought to be encouraged, but here in Japan I was encountering the idea that reading is a frivilous activtiy not always allowed. (To be fair, the lack of children reading is becoming more of a problem now in Japan, and very few teachers are strict about not reading during down time in class.)
Why is there the idea that reading is frivilous in Japan? I can think of two reasons. The first is that reading is still fun for most Japanese children. There are a wide variety of books: manga, illustrated novels, sports-based novels, etc. that lower the barrier to reading for lower-level students. The second reason is historically Japan has distinguished between frivilous reading (ie: worthless novels &c.) and serious reading (ie: the classics, moral biographies &c.)

Speaking of historical Japan and reading, Edo period Japan had a higher literacy rate than the Western nations. Thus it is interesting that all the Edo/Meiji period novels I own (which is several), are written largely in kanji all accompanied by furigana. These are popular novels: tales of the supernatural, or tales of love and revenge. Equivalent modern books rarely use furigana and use hiragana rather than the more difficult kanji. I think this is a shame. Not only does a fully glossed text allow the less educated to enjoy reading the book, but it adds a fuller meaning to the text. 握飯 (nigirimeshi) alone only means some rice in a ball. For example, お握飯 glossed as “omusubi” gives it a fuller meaning: more colloquial, slightly soft feeling. And there were many such instances as this. I feel this kanji with furigana glosses method allows the text to be read at two levels: both meaning and phonetically. (If you aren’t convinced, consider how Motowori glossed the Kojiki. Definitely two levels.) It is a shame it is hardly used any more.

  • みだくさん汁
  • 大根のそぼろ煮
  • さんまの蒲焼風煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳