Sunday, September 19, 2010


This list of songs frightened me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Japanese Wedding - A Food Jackpot

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend my first Japanese weddding as my colleague from the school was marrying a local. It was an amazing experience that was full of unique traditions, beautiful clothing and amazing food.

I thought you might like to see the bountiful dishes that were served at this wedding. I couldn't believe it when dish after dish after dish came and went. And yet...I kept on eating.
The entree (or starter) with lots of sushi.  On the right is seaweed, egg and eel.  The middle was fish and long necked crab and the pot was caviar kinda stuff.  All yummy.  
Had to show a close up of the beans.  Aren't they to die for?
Sashimi - I dug everything on this plate bar the lighter white fish with the three stripes...ick
I am not exactly sure what this was but it was warm and it tasted good so who am I to argue?
Vegetable soup - my mum makes better :)
This was fantastically amazing.  Japan has given me a renewed interest in the humble fish or 'sakana'.
Reeeeed Meeeeeat - I was in sheer heaven.  Steak, how I have missed thee these past 9 months.
Celebration rice
Miso soup to finish off the meal.
Dessert - cheesecake and chocolate sponge (which some of the guests found a little hard to define. )
The Cake.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Can Make Gyoza!

I don't cook.

Well I cook a little but that meant nothing when I came to Japan. You see...the Japanese don't have ovens. So all the things I knew how to cook weren't possible here. I can't mix up a huge lasagna or bake a birthday cake and that's kinda soul destroying. Also, I can't distinguish between ingredients in the store as either 1) I can't read Japanese or 2) I've never seen that vegetable before to know what it is.

Anyway bechamel sauce is magical and I miss it dearly.

Last weekend a co-worker, a native to Japan and its yummy cooking ways taught me how to make gyoza.  Originating in China, gyoza has been adopted by Japan, Korea and a multitude of other countries.  And it is gooooood.

This Thursday I had a go on my own.  Thankfully the previously mentioned co-worker helped me buy the right ingredients of which I can tell apart from the colour of their labels.

This mixture is a little pork (not much at all), some cabbage and some Chinese leek. Add in tablespoons of sesame oil, cooking sake, oyster sauce and soy sauce and you are good to go.  I mix with my hands because I roll that way :)

You buy these little circular doughy pieces, spoon some of the pork mixture into the middle and coat 180 degrees of the edge with some oil.  Smoosh the sides together and then periodically fold the edges back on themselves for a cool pleated effect.  This is my favourite part of making them due to the fact that I was able to do it relatively well from the beginning.  Success = joy.
And this is the final product!

This is the third attempt at cooking them as I couldn't get the timing or the water levels right.  You basically fry one side for a bit and then add some water to cook them through.  You don't turn them over so you are cooking them a little blind.

Mix equal amounts of white vinegar and soy sauce together and dip away.

I love gyoza.

I can cook gyoza.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Times Square

The first time I went to Times Square it was 10am. I stood there with people milling around me and thought 'huh'. I had officially gotten there but I swiftly realised that there wasn't really anything to do other than take a few snaps, look around and then move on.

 It was a little anti-climatic.

The photo to the left was taken on the last occasion I went to Times Square.  I went with my hostel friend, Tim and we were passing time until we had to head to the St. James Theatre to see the Broadway production of American Idiot.  It was a fantastic people watching opportunity but the thing that surprised me the most sits squarely in the middle of this picture.  There is a memorial for a guy that served as religious counsel in 2-3 wars.  It seems weirdly at odds with its surrounds.

I took about 5 pictures in 12 days that have me in frame.  This one is thanks to Tim as I took his photo in the same spot and he insisted I do the same despite my protests to the contrary.  Within a day of being in NYC I dressed for comfort which meant ugly shoes, no make up and clothes I felt comfortable sweating in - it is NOT glam.
Hacing been in the Square on a normal day, I believe being there on the busiest night of the year would equate with being burned alive, trampled and shot three times.  There is NO way you'd find me there on that night ball dropping or not.
The infamous ball that drops.  
I couldn't take pictures of the fantastic production so the billboard will have to do.  American Idiot is a production that threads Green Day songs together with little to no plot.  I didn't care, the performances were great, the set AMAZING and it was a fantastically fun 90 minute show.  Except for the seats.  I am 5"11 and my legs were mashed almost into my chest.  It hurt sitting in tiny seats with no leg room.  Seriously, it made an aeroplane look spacious.  Tim, at well over six foot looked like a giraffe trying to fit into a suitcase.  It wasn't pretty.  But we suffered happily to say we'd seen a Broadway show, a good one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Natural History Museum of Awesomeness

Over the next few weeks I will be posting about my time in NYC.

One of my favourite places to visit was the Natural History Museum where my not-so-inner geek was permitted to fly free and revel in awesomeness.
Isn't it a pretty building?

The ceiling is pretty flash too. Though this is all I could see of the dinosaur in the entrance area as it was undergoing some repairs.
The planetarium was amazing and I found myself becoming interested in space beyond the application of astrology in my daily life. It helped that my cohort, Steph, is a massive science nerd in the coolest way possible and her enthusiasm rubbed off.

But what really grabbed my attention?

The freaking dinosaurs.
C'mon? Like this wouldn't get you hopping up and down with glee like a three year old with a sugar rush. The funniest thing is there were many little kids geeking out but the worst offenders were the dads. They were master geeks and I loved watching them examining the displays and smiling like loons.

It's incredible that these creatures once tread the same paths we've sealed with asphalt.
I felt like I was in Jurassic Park 5: Bone Yard.
I can't remember for the life of me what this was but I would marry it....if it still existed. Equal parts cute and repulsive. Like a pug.
This shows how chuffed I was to be there. Excuse the self portrait cheesiness but it pretty accurately expresses my geek outs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grapes and Blue Bums

This week has been a bit of an education. I've learned some things about my host country that would never have occurred to me in a million years.

The Japanese don't eat the skin of grapes.

Or the skin of peaches. They just don't like the texture. Interesting.

Lastly....don't judge me.

My class are swimming a lot of late and I have to help them change because they are tiny and have the spatial awareness of roller skate wearing giraffes.

Think I am kidding?

The kids have to lay their clothes on the ground before picking them up... Anyway. One of my kids had this blue spot on their butt. I immediately starting thinking about checking out the parents but then I realised other kids in the class had them too. Instead of wondering about the child rearing practises of my community I asked a colleague about it. Turns out it is a genetic thing called a 'Mongolian spot'. It's common amongst East Asians, Polynesians and Native Americans.

According to wikipedia -
"The blue colour is caused by melanocytes, melanin-containing cells, that are deep under the skin. Usually, as multiple spots or one large patch, it covers one or more of the lumbosacral area (lower back), the buttocks, flanks, and shoulders. It results from the entrapment of melanocytes in the dermis during their migration from the neural crest to the epidermis during embryonic development."

It usually goes away after 3-5 years or before puberty.

It has been the cause of many unfounded accusations of parental abuse. Having seen the colour and the resemblance to bruises I can't say I am surprised.

Now I am educated.

*Mongolian spot affected child photo provided by Wikipedia. Not anyone I know.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pizza just ain't the same

If I had to choose between sweet and savory I would choose the the latter every time. I knew that coming to Japan would drastically change my eating habits and what was available to me but it hasn't been that bad. I miss roasts to a degree that hurts and I am definitely iron deficient from the lack of red meat but there's fantastic miso soup, yummy sushi, delicious eel and a whole host of other weird but taste tingling variations on western food.

But pizza isn't the same.

It isn't even in the same universe.

I didn't eat that much pizza to begin with back home but the foods that I am yearning for are the ones I ate infrequently - roasts, steak, pizza, etc

They have pizza here but it's just not the same. It's good but not the same.

Here for instance is the margarita pizza that I ate at the soccer stadium. It was the best piece of pizza I've had since I got here and it really doesn't look like much at all.

This is the weirdest pizza I've had since coming to Japan - the salad pizza. And believe me when I say it was really, really good.
Bring it on NYC...hit me with your caloric, cheesy best!