Bread Roll

March 19th, Tuesday:

DSCN4414

  • 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

DSCN4413

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

Goa’uld Salad

January 28th, Monday:

DSCN4271

  • Miso Soup (Onion, Carrot, Cabbage)
  • Spinache and Jaco Salmon Salad (Salmon, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage)
  • Japanese-style Meatball
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 694

Meat contains lots of protein which we need to build our muscles and bones. It cannot be done without to make a healthy body while we are growing. It also is useful for recovering from fatigue and preventing anemia.

I don’t really eat meat (outside of school lunch), so obviously I don’t really see its necessity in one’s diet. In fact I grew up not eating meat (pork and beef, but we ate chicken), and haven’t suffered worse for it. Actually, I am a little short for a haole person, but that is a fact which ① I am immensely grateful for and ② is probably genetic because my grandmother and aunt are both shorter than I. That said, some source of protein is important.

Something I am concerned about is the unsustainablity of the modern world’s eating habits. This includes eating so much meat, over eating in general, eating non local/out of season foods, and throwing away uneaten but still perfectly good foods.

For this reason, I feel really bad that not only did I leave half my rice uneaten as usual (for I really can’t eat that much food!) but also hardly touched my Spinach Jaco Salad, for the merely selfish reason of I hate Jaco. Now, Jaco look weird and have a strong taste, but that would not be enough of a detest them as I do. The true reason I hate Jaco–and I think this is a very good reason and one that fully justifies my reluctance to put them anywhere near my mouth–is that they look like goa’uld.

Goa’uld are lovely little parasite aliens that enter their hosts through the mouth or neck and burrow themselves into the brain. My Japanese students may be innocently unaware of these malicious creatures and therefore able to stomach mouthfuls of goa’uld like Jaco… but I cannot. The psychological strain is simply too much. And if you compare the photoes below, you too will begin to wonder how long the Japanese will remain free from the Goa’ulds parasitic control.

Goa'uld Parasite

Goa’uld Parasite

Goa'uld Babies

Goa’uld Babies

Actually, I have a theory. The Japanese started eating Jaco goa’uld babies long ago in order to develop a resistance against full grown goa’uld parasitism, and that is reason the host of the only Japanese-ish goa’uld overlord is clearly not of Japanese descent:

Goa'uld Overlord "Amaterasu"

Goa’uld Overlord “Amaterasu”

みそ汁
小松菜とジャコの鮭そぼろあえ
和風肉団子
ごはん
牛乳

School Lunch of Ancestors

January 25th, Friday:

DSCN4229

  • Miso Soup (Potato, Wakame Seaweed)
  • Sweet Salt Broiled Salmon
  • Takuan Pickle
  • Ponkan Orange
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal:667

School lunch began about 120 years ago. The menu in that time was “Riceball, Broiled Fish, and Pickles”. Today, we’ve tried to recreate that old style school lunch.

I really liked today’s lunch. It was filling without being oppressive, like most modern meals. In fact, if you cut the amount of rice and soup in half, today’s lunch would have been perfect more me. (Oh, and minus the milk, of course. Tea or soymilk instead could be nice though.) Yummy! Yummy!

That said, I think some of teachers who I ate lunch with today felt it was a little lackluster. One of them commented that it was like “hospital food”, which I take was not really a compliment…? But even if most people felt that way, I still think its very important to experience and try to understand our past and where we came from.

Bonus! I just snapped this close up of the miso soup.

Bonus! I just snapped this close up of the miso soup.

  • みそ汁
  • 鮭の甘塩焼き
  • たくあん
  • ぽんかん
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Stonehunt Soup

November 19th, Monday:

  • Ishikari Soup (Salmon, Daikon Radish, Tofu, Carrot, Burdock, Chinese Cabbage)
  • Simmered Hijiki and Bean Curd (Hijiki Seaweed, BeanCurd, Carrot, Konnyaku, Green Bean)
  • Shore Fried Chikuwa
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 860

Stonehunt (Ishikari) Soup is a traditional dish of Hokkaido made with salmon. Threeflats (Sanpei) Soup is another Hokkaido dish. The difference is that threeflats soup is a salt based broth and stonehunt soup is a miso based broth.

I like ishikari soup and hijiki so much. They are both very tasty. Yum! Yum! I like chikuwa a lot, but it was a little bit oily today. Speaking of chikuwa, lately I’ve been buying this chikuwa with Furano onions mixed in with the fish and it is extremely delicious, straight or on rice. Besides this, it is very low in fat and pretty cheap comparatively speaking.

By the way, I always mispronounce the word “salmon”. Most people do not pronounce the “l”, but since all my knowledge comes from books, I tend to pronounce the “l”. Anyway, I reading the other day that reason salmon has an l is due to my beloved Latin! The word “salmon” comes from Latin word “Salmo”.

石狩汁
ひじきと厚揚げの煮物
ちくわの磯辺揚げ
ごはん
牛乳

Autumn Full Stew

November 13th, Tuesday:

  • Autumn Full Stew (Salmon, Chestnut, Shimeji Mushroom, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Parsley)
  • German Potato (Potato, Bacon)
  • Breaded Sausage
  • Top Sliced Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 820

Today’s stew uses Autumn ingredients. Everyone, when you hear of Autumn ingredients, what do you think of? Modern times are when foods are plentiful and we can get any food regardless of the season. This extravagance is also saddening.

This time of year, the market I always go is selling many delicious and very inexpensive vegetables grown in my town. Indeed, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the wonderful of this. When I notice all this abundance of the Autumn, I also think of the amazing extravagance that characterizes modern times. Even in the middle of winter, I can eat papaya and pineapples. Even in the middle of summer, I can indulge in as much shave ice as I want. This makes life so easy to live, but it has become easy to lose the seasonal awareness and gratitude that plays an important part in making us correct persons. So as our school lunch menu reminds us: Food is plentiful, but the extravagance is also saddening. So let’s make an effort of eat seasonal and local foods!

That said, today’s Autumn stew was really tasty!! Yum! Yum!

秋いっぱいシチュー
ジャーマンポテト
ソーセージかつ
背割りパン
牛乳

Yukari Rice!!

November 9th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Cabbage, Carrot)
  • Stirfried Butterbur (Butterbur, Konnyaku, Bamboo Shoot, Satsuma-age)
  • Sweet Salt Broiled Salmon
  • Yukari Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 699

“Yukari” is red perilla sprinkled on rice, and was first introduced as a product by Mishima foods. It is related to the poem in the Kokin Wakashuu:
Murasaki no hitomoto yuye ni Musashi-no no
Kusa ha minagara ahareto zo miru

As you can see, yukari rice turns a lovely red when mixed with the red perilla. I like perilla a lot, so I was happy to eat it, but I think the colour/ slightly sour taste turned some students off of it.

As our school lunch menu told us, yukari gohan was first formulated by the company Mishima Foods in the 1960s. The name “yukari” is an archaic word for purple and they were inspired to name the product purple by the 867th poem in the “Collection of Poems, Old and New“. I typed out the romanji of the poem above, but the meaning is something like this:

Because of a single purple plant, everyone is moved by the sight of the Feild of Musashi’s grasses.
紫のひともとゆゑにむさしのの草はみながらあはれとぞ見る

I should mention that the kanji used to write yukari is not the same as the one used to write murasaki, but is interestingly used when writing the word for perilla. Because waka poetry is very beautiful, I will give you a silly waka I wrote myself:

Amoung the bamboo,
wind pawing at your white sleeves, paused in your hurry,
Was it only accident that you looked my direction?

みどしる
ふきの炒め煮
鮭の甘塩焼き
ゆかりごはん
牛乳

Squash Tempura

September 14th, Friday:

  • Potato Dumpling Soup (Potato, Chicken, Burdock, Trefoil, Bean Curd)
  • Minced Salmon with Spinach and Jaco Fish (Salmon, Mustard Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Dried Sardine Babies)
  • Squash Tempura
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal:851

Seasonal food is much more delicious. Looking around you, can you feel the plenty of Autumn? Autumn may be the most delicious season of them all.

  1. Potato dumplings: Very Yummy!
  2. Jaco Fish: 😦
  3. Squash: Yummy!
  4. Rice: Always Yummy and Sweet!

A strong awareness of the seasons is part of the Japanese national character. The modern incarnation of this includes associating certain activities with the seasons. In the case of Autumn, it is usually associated with eating, sports, and reading. Eating is hardly surprising, given it’s harvest time. Sports can also be logically explained as the cool but not yet cold weather of Autumn is most suitable for physical activity. Reading doesn’t have a particular reason to my knowledge, but if you have passed your Sunday in the park reading while gold and crimson fall gently about you, I think you should be able to understand.

  • 芋団子汁
  • 小松菜とジャコの鮭そぼろ
  • かぼちゃ天ぷら
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Miso Soup

September 7th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Winter Mushroom, Tofu, Green Onion)
  • Veggie Stirfry with Chinese Sauce (Green Onion, Carrot, Cabbage, Spinach, Bean Sprout)
  • Teriyaki Salmon
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 681

Oyster sauce is called  “Kakiabura” (lit. oyster oil) in Japanese, but it’s not actually oyster oil, rather it’s a seasoning made by boiling down a brothe of oysters. It subtly brings out the flavour of today’s stirfry.

Today’s soup contained enokitake, a popular type of mushroom in Japan. Japanese crusine, very much unlike say… standard American crusine, contains a wide variety of commonly used mushrooms. Most of them are of a rather different type than the kinds that are seen in English, which makes translating the name of the mushrooms complexing. The wikipedia article for them is titled by the romanized Japanese name “enokitake”. That’s not bad, but it leaves the casual reader comletely in the dark about what an “enokitake” is. So, no. The wikipedia article gives the english translation of “Golden Needle Mushrooms”. That is better, esp. since it is a direct translation of the Chinese name for enokitake (金針茸). But it is really long and unweildy. We might try translate the Japanese name directly, which would be “Hackberry Mushrooms”. That is slightly better as for weildiness, but doesn’t sound all that appetizing in my opinion. Still, I might choose this option. Another suggestion might be “Winter Mushrooms”. Apparently, winter mushrooms are a European mushrooms of a similar cultivar, so it sounds like a good idea. Enokitake are also a clean white colour and often eaten in winter hotpots, so that evokes the name “Winter Mushroom” as well. The only negative is that the European winter mushrooms isn’t generally edible, so it might give readers the wrong idea. Despite this, I think I would still choose Winter Mushrooms as the best translation.

  • みそ汁
  • 野菜の中華ソース炒め
  • 鮭の照り焼き
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Potato Soup

September 4th, Tuesday:

  • Potato Soup (Potato, Onion, Parsley)
  • Rice Vermicelli Stirfry (Rice Vermicelli, Pork, Onion, Shijime Mushroom, Carrot, Bamboo Shoot, Bell Pepper)
  • Salmon Scraps and Vegetable Breaded Patty
  • Kabocha Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 978

“Nakaochi (scraps)” of today’s Salmon Scraps and Vegetable Breaded Patty means the meat left nearby and on the bone when filleting the fish. So its patty made of a blend of that meat.

Kabocha bread and potato soup are a delightful combination. As I’ve mentioned before, I eat mine by dipping the bread into the soup. One of the girls in my class today ate it by tearing the bread into small chunks and put them all into the soup. She then fished them out with her chopsticks and ate them somewhat like dumplings. It doesn’t seem like a bad method. The salmon scraps patty had that unidentifiable fish taste that I much favoured in fish-sticks as a child, so I liked it. Of course, it was pretty oily, like most katsu.

During lunch time, music chosen by the students is played over the broadcast system. The first song today was “Bakchi Dancer” by a Japanese band called “Does”. I know nothing of and care not to most music popular among the middle school aged population. Really, listening to most pop music makes me wish I had never been born. But Does is the sort of band that only awesome kids (ie: geeks) listen to, so I was pretty happy to hear it during lunch today. Here is a poor quality clip of the song, taken from the most awesome animation ever. (That would be Gintama.)

By the way, this anime is about Japanese patriots fighting against the moral corruption that the evil foreign aliens have brought to Japan along with modernization. Can you see the parallels to history?

  • じゃがいものスープ
  • ビーフン炒め
  • 鮭のなかおち野菜カツ
  • かぼちゃパン
  • 牛乳

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