Bread Roll

March 19th, Tuesday:

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  • 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

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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

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Chocolate Feelings

February 14th, Thursday:
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  • Shoyu Veggie Ramen (Ramen Noodles, Pork, Bean Sprout, Chinese Cabbage, Bamboo Shoot, Green Onion, Carrot)
  • Milk
  • Veggieburger
  • Chocolate Feelings
  • Kcal: 799
Chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa plant (cocoa beans). Slab chocolate like we eat nowadays was first introduced in 1847, before that chocolate was drunk.
The name of today’s dessert is “Chocotto kimochi”, which literally means “a little bit of emotion”. But “choco” and “mochi” are written in katakana, which read together means, of course, “chocolate mochi”. So itis assorted of pun.
Today is St. Valentine’s Day and I received some chocolate. One was from one of my students (pictured) and the other was from the head of the Rokugo Post Office. Yeah for living in a small town!
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There were a couple characters I wasn’t sure about in yesterday’s translation of the curry recipe, so today I was able to ask the Japanese teacher at Rokugo about it. It turns out two were abbreviated characters (トキ and コト) and the other is apparently not understandable even to experts. So thank you Rokugo!
しょうゆ野菜ラーメン
牛乳
野菜のハンバーグ
チョコっときモチ

White Dumpling Soup

July 9th, Monday:

  • White Dumpling Soup (Rice Dumpling, Carrot, Tsuto Surimi, Burdock, Chinese Cabbage, Green Onion)
  • Miso-Simmered Daikon and Pork (Pork, Daikon Radish, Konnyaku, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Tatsuta-Fried Salmon
  • Rice
  • Milk

Shiratama mochi are dumplings made by mixing water and “shiratama-ko,” flour made from glutinous rice. They have a chewy, but smooth texture.

My favourite foods are starches, that is things like rice, potatoes, and rolls &c. If I could eat nothing but white rice and soymilk sop for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly happy. Of course, it would be a short life because I’d soon die from malnutrition, but I hope you can still understand what I am trying to say. White dumpling soup combines starchy rice dumplings with the delightfulness of soup (my second favourite food), and even adds in the some faithful root vegetables and the wonderful smooth texture of surimi. Yum! Yum!

さて、ever since the sakoku was broken, Japan has been renowned for her crooked teeth. Even today, cosmetic dentistry is not a requisite for membership into polite society. That isn’t to say people here necessarily have unhealthy teeth. Japan has a history of dental care extending back to the classical age. Back in the day, all cultured women, and many men, coated their teeth completely with a sort of black paste. Not only did this protect their teeth from cavities, it had the added benefit of disguising those bony protrusions White bone teeth were associated with death; they were not something to be flashed around in good society. Of course the last century saw this teeth blackening custom abandoned when Americans arrived to exclaim their disgust, “Ewwww! Civilized people spend lots of money on buying our American toothpaste!!” By the way this bone taboo is likely where the habit–affected by so many girls–of covering one’s mouth with one’s hand when laughing comes from.

In modern times, at more than one school I visit, the students are in the habit of not only brushing their teeth at home, but also after lunch at school, using travel toothbrush sets stored in their cubby. I think this is a very good habit I would do well to emulate.
Not to say there are no students with bad teeth. Just has in my homeland you can find elementary school kids flashing mouths full of silver, I feel certain there are children with poor dental health. Upping the frequency of visits to dentist could only be a good thing. (Actually, I am afraid I myself am a bit overdue for such a visit.) But concerning the Western obsession with sparkling white straight teeth, I can’t help but be in sympathy with TANIZAKI Jun’ichiro in his essay “Randa no Setsu”:

“When I see dazzling teeth all lined up in a beautiful row, I can’t help but feel the inhumanity.”

  • 白玉汁
  • 大根と豚肉のみそ煮
  • 鮭の竜田揚げ
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳