Vegetable Curry Rice

June 6th, Wednesday:

  • Vegetable Curry Rice (Potato, Eggplant, Carrot, Onion, Green Bean)
  • Milk
  • Mixed Fruit Jello (Block Jelly, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Jello, Nata de coco)
  • Spinach Omelet

Nata de coco is made from solidified coconut milk and is a traditional food of the Philippines. By sight, it resembles kanten gelatin, but you can easily tell it’s not by the characteristic gummy texture.

Although my beloved hometown is in the tropics and coconuts were bounteous throughout my childhood, I ate nata de coco for the first time in Japan. From what I understand, it first become very popular in Japan, and nowhere else, in 1993. Today, it is no longer a fad, but has an established placed as a dessert in Japan. Nata de coco is really quite delicious and I enjoy the texture, although I could see how some people might not. It seems to be made by fermenting the coconut milk. The name comes from Spanish, meaning “cream of Coconut”.

While, I didn’t eat nata de coco as a child, I did eat my fair share of coconut pudding. They don’t resemble each other in texture at all, but they are both desserts made from coconut, so I think it counts. Coconut pudding, which is made from coconut milk, water, and sugar and thickened with starch, is far better than it’s milk-based sister for two reasons. One is that it doesn’t leave that gross residue that milk-based products do in your mouth, and the other is of course that lactose intolerant people can eat it.

Furano Asparagus!!

May 23rd, Wednesday:

  • Furano Asparagus Curry Rice (Asparagus, Pork, Eggplant, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Acerola Gelee Milk Gelatin
  • Net Grilled Hamburger Patty

The flavour of Furano asparagus is sweet and firm but tender. It’s deliciousness is born especially from the harsh weather of Furano. 

At lunch, student usually push their individual desks together to form a group (han) of 4 to 6 students. These han are given a name and a decorated poster for each is hung in the classroom. The school chores rotation is also distributed up by han. It is also not unusual to do group work or form teams based on the han. The han change members when the seating chart changes, every couple of months. The atmosphere of each han depends on the group. Some will eat in complete silence, but more often the students will chat with each other, and play jankenpo at the end to decide who will clean up what dishes and so on. Less commonly, students will leave their desks facing forward and each individually eat lunch. Outgoing students will chat with their friends while quieter students will merely eat their lunch and go back surreptitiously reading their book (since they technically are not allowed to read during lunch). During my own middle school days, I fondly recall sitting outside under the sheltering branches of a faikus tree everyday to share my bento with my best friend, quite different from Japan and probably most places. Anyway, in older photographs of Japan I have seen (cf. my banner photo), the students sit facing forward and individually when eating. I wonder when eating in han developed as a custom in school.

Girls eating bento lunches at school (1935), taken from Old Photos of Japan.

Curry Rice

April 20th, Friday:

  • Curry Rice (Pork, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Mixed Fruit Jello (Jello, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Coconut Milk)
  • Shaped Cheese

Notes: During the first term of school, it is easy to get conditions like stiff shoulders from being nervous. In that case, curry which includes lots of spicy ingredients is useful. Warming up the body from the inside, it heals the stiffness of the muscles.