October 15, 2007

Limeys Sell Out Too!


I took these photos on my cell phone on low resolution while I suffered through the worst allergy attack of my life in the middle of the Japanese version of Walmart. So enjoy my brief post and fuzzy photos then forgive me and move on.
That's Keira Knightly, some emaciated chick from the terrible Pirates of the Caribbean flix. They Photoshopped in some flesh and hair then tacked on a mermaid tail so she could push that Lux shampoo that J Lo was pushing awhile back. On a standee display near the checkout area was Orlando Bloom hawking some kind of hair wax. I think they found the only angle where this guy doesn't look like a douche. Sorry if I'm in a foul mood. Matt's gone so I'm back on my diet of 7-11 katsudon and chuhais.
Oh...and if Walmarts across America added surreal second floors full of trendy showcase rooms where the cheapest coffee table was three hundred dollars and yet the bottom floor was still the linoleum and fluorescent discount mecca as usual....that would be Homes, a.k.a. Japanese Walmart.


October 6, 2007

The Tale of the Ginkgo Nut
or
"Why I Sorted Through Rotting Fruit That Smelled
Like Dog Feces on My Only Day Off"

Squished orange splotches along the road alerted me to the annual falling of the ginkgo fruit this year. It's a hoot to drive around Yokosuka and spot the occasional American stepping around the horrifically smelling fruit. Some check their shoe for dog poo; others curiously stare wondering if it's a weird Japanese kumquat or badly decomposed cherry. Me? Well, I had anticipated this, literally, all year long remembering how I missed out last year. Stick with me on this long post as I take you through the ginkgo nut harvest and the wonderful pay off in the end...
This photo is the second round of ginnan, or ginkgo nuts, that I gathered in a week. This tree's fruit were a tad bigger than a cherry; the other tree's fruit were the size of chocolate covered peanuts. So, this photo was the score! I suppose the fruit only begins to smell after it falls from the tree where it quickly begins to ripen and rot. The smell is like baby poop, dog poop and vomit scrambled together and left in the hot sun. I'm not exaggerating. II suppose many people pop the nut out there on the spot but being the novice that I am, I took the bags home where they stunk up my car, turned my garage into a stench hole and made my kitchen reek for days.

After the most grueling task of removing the flesh from the fruit, (forget double bagging-try eight!) I then rubbed the nuts together in my hands under running water. This only took a few minutes. I then spread the nuts out on a towel to let them dry and turn white. I followed some foodie blog's instructions by the way. At this point, they resemble pistachios.
Now the second most tedious part: shelling. It's not like I own a teeny tiny nutcracker for situations like this so I had to use my molars. (Thanks mom for stressing dental hygiene my entire youth,) If you bite too hard, you instantly break the gentle nut... They are now a nice off-white, bordering yellow color with think husks.
I've only had them two ways: in a stir fry made by a Japanese lady and on a stick grilled yakitory-style. I decided to toss them in a hot cast iron skillet with a few drops of olive oil and a dusting of salt. In about a minute, they change from an off-white to a light yellow and gradually become a beautiful jade green. As they become less opaque and start to look almost glassy, you know they're done.
And that's the story of the ginkgo nut. The next time you're in the pharmacy isle of your local supermarket or drugstore, you'll know why a ginkgo supplement costs so damn much.