Maize

July 25th, Wednesday:

  • Chicken Curry (Chicken, Potato, Carrot, Onion)
  • Milk
  • Mango Jelly with Nata de Coco (Mango Jelly, Nata de Coco, Peach)
  • Maize

In Hokkaido, we call toumorokoshi (maize) “toukibi”, but in other parts of Japan, there are various ways people say it, such as “toutoko” and “tokkibi”. Aren’t the differences between regions interesting!

It’s the last day of the first trimester, so I didn’t eat school lunch today. But I wish I could eat Mango Jelly. Just as there are different words for maize in Japan, there are different words in English too.
In the US, most people called maize corn. But actually the word “corn” refers the staple grain of a people. Thus Japanese corn is technically rice, and British corn is technically wheat. The reason maize is often called corn started as an abbreviation of the term “Indian Corn”, which of course would be maize. The word maize itself is commonly used in Britian and comes to English from the language of the Carribean indigiedents through Spanish.
But back to the Japanese language, what I wonder is what is the difference between 「とうもろこし」and「コーン」。

Have a nice summer break!

  • チキンカレー
  • 牛乳
  • マンゴーゼリーとナタデココ
  • とうもろこし

Mango Tart

June 22nd, Friday:

  • Pork Soup (Pork, Potato, Tofu, Carrot, Burdock)
  • Bonito-dressed Vegetables (Cabbage, Carrot, Bean Sprout, Wakame Seaweed, Spinach)
  • Sweet Salt Grilled Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk

The bonito-dressed vegetables are dressed with kaeri, sesame seeds, salt konbu seaweed, fine flaked bonito, and sakura shrimp. “Kaeri” are the slightly older version of the dried baby sardines called chirimen.

Due to tests, I ended up not eating school lunch today. So I wanted to talk a little bit more about yesterday’s tart.

The school lunch center cooks most of the school lunch dishes itself and then transports it divided by class to each school in temperature retaining metal containers. However, there are some dishes made by an outside manufacturer and served packaged. Yesterday’s お米で mango tart was one such dish. It is a “Friends Sweets” made by the 日東ベスト株式会社 and made in association with FOOD ACTION NIPPON, a governmental action group. I think the tart is quite tasty and students generally agree: there is not likely to be any leftover. The crust is made with rice flour, which gives it a fine slightly granular feel as opposed to, say, a crust made with wheat and lard. Sticky rice is, in my opinion, by far the best grain in existence, so I prefer it. The filling consists of a custard like cream and a very sweet mango jelly. I personally would like it even better if the entire filling was mango, but then again, I come from a tropical island. Most people would probably find that much mango overpowering and prefer the more delicate custard-mango version.

Now, I am sure you are wondering: what is FOOD ACTION NIPPON? At least, that is what I was wondering the first time I ate the tart. Basically, they are a government-funded group that tries to encourage people to eat in a more traditionally Japanese style. When Japan was occupied by America after WWII, one of America’s main objectives was, of course, to convince Japan to give all its money to American corporations. One of the ways they accomplished this was an intense campaign to start eating tons of wheat and drinking lots of milk. This worked quite well, because Japan has had this weird mistaken idea since the Meiji period that all Westerners are somehow magically always correct and should be assiduously copied. Now, however, the many drawbacks of an American style diet are being admitted to, and thus the Japanese government is trying lead people away from that cake-ladened pathway of negligence and death.

Another benefit to eating more rice and fish as opposed to bread and beef is higher food self-sufficiency. I have heard many foreigners say that food self-sufficiency is “stupid”. The complete imperialistic thoughtlessness of such a statement makes me cry. It is true that in this globalized society, food self-sufficiency is not the most economically beneficial policy for Japan. If the world remains eternally at peace, Japan loses money by buying rice grown lovingly by its own Japanese farmers as opposed to the cheaper wheat mass-produced in America. But guess what? But an eternal peaceful world isn’t likely to be accomplished until at least several thousand kalpas have passed by. With out food self-sufficiency, if Japan ever happens to be cut off from trade with America or other countries, her people will starve. I think righteous people will agree that hedging against mass starvation in the event of a war or disaster is more important than merely saving some money.

  • 豚汁
  • 野菜のかつお節和え
  • ほっけの甘塩焼
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Chidjimi

June 21st, Thursday:

  • Tonkatsu Ramen (Ramen Noodle, Char Siu, Bean Sprout, Bamboo Shoot, Green Onion)
  • Milk
  • Chidjimi
  • Mango Tart

Geshi (summer solstice) is one of the 24 seasonal divisions. It is the day with the longest daytime and shortest nighttime. According to the calendar it is summer, but actually it is right in the middle of the rainy (baiu) season, so it’s a time when farmers are busier than ever.

I would like to reproduce a dialogue from my student’s second year English textbook (Lesson 3-4). It is between a Japanese student and a Korean exchange student.

Kenta: Then I want to take you to an okonomiyaki restaurant.
Jin: Okonomiyaki?
Kenta: It’s like Chijimi.
Jin: Oh, you mean jeon. Then let’s go!

As the passage illustrates, apparently, the term “chidjimi” comes from the Korean dialect spoken in Gyeongsang Province, and thus normal Koreans call the dish “jeon”.
I have never eaten chidjimi, but it was generally agreed upon that today’s school lunch version tasted nothing like chidjimi at all.

  • とんかつラーメン
  • 牛乳
  • ちぢみ
  • マンゴータルト