February 20, 2008

Some of the ugliest things taste the best!

Chikuwa: Sounds cute, looks repulsive but tastes DELISH!
This is a tube that the Japanese consider to be a "fish cake." It's part of a kelp stew called oden that is popular when it's chilly. I've had these at low-end places where they are like chewing on sponges. This one was meaty, not fishy at all and changed my mind about the funky looking fish cake.

Pass Me the Sake, I'm Going In...
I like nothing better than eating something that my Japanese friends assumed that I wouldn't. I think I do it more for their surprised expressions and exclamations of "Eeeehhhhh! Jessica ate that?" This is diced, raw octopus marinated with the wasabe radish. Verdict: once you get past that slimy start, it's killer! The bursts of spicy wasabe are fun!

The Best Gyoza I've Ever Had!
Okay, this isn't ugly but I had to share it anyway. After blossom viewing, we ended up at this Chinese-themed restaurant and ordered gyoza (pot-stickers,) with flour made with shiso, the fragrant and delicious leaves that it seems, the Japanese eat with everything!

February 16, 2008

Ramen for Breakfast: The Animal Edition!

"Animals think...they're pretty smart
Sh*t on the ground...see in the dark"
~The Talking Heads~

while my folks were here in Dec/Jan, we were at Hachimangu Shrine when Matt disappeared for several minutes to take photos of squirrels. (If you really know Matt, this doesn't surprise you.) Look at the look on this guy's face! It's total wonder and confusion and yet--he looks like the cutest little stuffed toy ever, doesn't he? Aw...Japan....even the squirrels are adorable!

Forget double negatives, this sentence is beyond fixing! After much thought, my dad and I finally figured out that if you DON'T have a pet, you CAN'T sit here which is exactly the OPPOSITE of what this cafe meant to say. "
A few weeks ago, Matt finally nagged me into hiking this trail behind our house. It's six miles long and is full of climb after climb. The view from the top was worth it and I think we got above a smog line or something because my lungs haven't expanded that fully in a looooong time. It literally hurt so good to get a fresh breath breath of air! We hiked past temples and shrines, a small creek and ended near a rock climbing area, "Shonan Takatori" maybe??? Since our friend Liz remarked that I never mention Matt in RFB--here he is, Liz--alive and well!

February 10, 2008

This is a melon. In a supermarket. For roughly $115 American dollars.
It's the norm to give fruits as gifts here in Japan. My Japanese colleagues and Mat and my Japanese friends present tangerines, apple pears, strawberries, persimmons and other fruits as "thank you" gifts, souvenirs from travel and especially when dining at our house instead of the American standard--a bottle of wine or flowers. You're probably wondering "well, does it at least taste as much as it costs?" Most of the time, yeah. The grapes from Katsunuma for example, taste amazing and don't come cheap. Japanese apple pears come individually wrapped in Styrofoam netting and, at five dollars or more a piece, will pour juice down your arm after the first bite. Nobody has bought me a hundred dollar mellon yet but if you plan to--don't. Buy me a premium bottle of sake will ya?!?

February 4, 2008

A Golden Sh*t to Celebrate the New Year
Perched on a shelf in the living room is a tiny creature made of glass. It's a handcrafted, adorably round pig (buta in Japanese if you bother to learn anything while reading my silly posts,) a gift from my good friend Yumi to celebrate the New Year. So why does a seemingly sophisticated, world-traveled kinda gal give her friend (tomodachi if you're taking notes,) a chubby pig with a pile of golden poop (unchi if you're a teacher's pet,)as a gift? Well, we'll ask Yumi to step up, comment and make it all clear to us.

February 3, 2008

What a Wonderful Surprise (and so much for Setsubun!)

We woke up to a rather cold house. I could barely wipe the crust from my eyes before I heard "Jessica Chan get down here now!" I threw off the covers anticipating that somebody had robbed us before Matt finished "There's snow EVERYWHERE!"We spent the morning making "yukidaruma," watching Luci try to chase snowflakes and destroy our snowman and cuddling in the living room watching the snow fall.
We were pllanning on throwing soybeans at devils and dining on yakitori in Kamakura but will have to wait again for Setsubun 2009:)