Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eating Japan.

While we were staying in the hotel in Hita we would start every day with a traditional Japanese breakfast: A piece of juicy grilled fish, fresh miso soup, steamed rice, homemade tofu, assorted vegetables and steaming pots of green tea. At first I really missed the five-pound bacon slab and monster omelette I was used to having every morning at home, but then I realized how much healthier these traditional breakfasts were. I didn't have to undo the buttons on my jeans even once or wash the whole thing down with a bottle of Mylanta.

There wasn't a formal restaurant in the hotel, so our room numbers would be handlettered on a sign in front of one of three large tatami rooms on the second floor. All of my family plus our relatives that were staying in the hotel (you know, the ones that had driven three hours just to see us) would sit and have breakfast together. I really, really miss those mornings.

We took an hour drive up into the hills one night to have dinner at the Sapporo Beer factory. They had an enormous restaurant that specialized in teppan-style cooking, where they bring out big platters of raw meat and vegetables and you cook it all yourself on grills built into the tables. When I saw them bringing out all those endless platters of beef I almost dropped to my knees in gratitude. Rigel managed to hold it together until they announced that there was unlimited beer, and then, well, he just cried like a baby.




Everywhere we went we saw these quaint little pastry shops, selling the most delicious, delicate little cakes and cookies you can imagine.

At this particular shop they had some tiny little cakes that were beautifully wrapped in rice paper and then set into small handmade baskets. I started loading six or seven of these things onto the counter to bring back as gifts, until my cousin pointed out that by the time I got them back to the U.S. they would be moldy puddles of goo. I strongly advised that they get with the program and start loading up their baked goods with preservatives and chemicals like we do in America, where a loaf of bread has a longer shelf life than a bottle of bleach.



The fruit in the supermarket is so beautiful it looks absolutely unreal. I wanted to take this entire display home, shellac it and set it up my living room. But then my sister reminded me that since a single apple costs fifty-dollars over there, this piece of pop-art would end up setting me back about three million dollars.


Since Rigel was pretty blasé about all the food displays, I was surprised when he expressed an interest in buying some of these. Until I pointed out that they were not, in fact, breasts that were wrapped in cellophane. He insisted on buying some, though, and I have to say I was very impressed with how they helped fill out my halter top.

Next up: The Dinner Cruise or How Our Relatives Managed To Outdo Themselves And Make Us Feel Even Worse About The Time We Took Them To Tony Roma's For Dinner.

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42 comments:

  1. Everything looks so delicious! I would love to have that breakfast. And now you've gone and made me hungry. Your trip sounds like it was just fantastic.

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  2. Woah, hang on there. Piece of fruit: fifty dollars? Inconceivable. Explain how.

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  3. I want that traditional breakfast right now. That sounds so goood and I am so HONGRY!

    I traveled for three months in SE Asia a few years ago and got really used to eating that kind of breakfast. I think it actually sends you into the day / sustains you better than the big, greasy piles we consume here.... but, Ohhhhhh BACON!

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  4. Sushi for breakfast? Where do I sign up?

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  5. It would never occur to me to eat fish for breakfast! No wonder the Japanese are so much healthier than us.

    Did the girls enjoy eating that way?

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  6. It all looks scrumptious. And unlimited beer? What a beautiful country.

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  7. You mean they weren't impressed when you took them to Tony Roma's? I love that place. We took some friends from Japan and Korea there when we down in Florida. Thought it would be a fun "American-style" place for them. Little did we know that Korean and Japan both have Tony Roma's. Oh well...

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  8. Oh, I'm dying, pining for the fish-rich ryokan breakfast. Guess I'll have to sate myself with a pound of smoked salmon for supper.

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  9. I love the pictures. Everything looks and sounds so yummy. I really think that 3 million dollar piece of art would have gone over well here. Your stories are great, keep them coming!

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  10. wait-endless platters of beef? I need to get on a plane NOW!
    Everything looks so yummy and pretty, and do they really have someone take the time out to put the fruit into the little cupcake holders? That's gotta take some time...

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  11. okay, so they aren't cupcake holders, but they look like 'em!

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  12. I love these Japan stories. If only all 'vacation slide shows' could be this entertaining.

    Great photography!

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  13. YOu went to the Soporo beer factory! YOu lucky duck! I LOVE Soporo! I could eat Japanese food every day. You are SO lucky!(Gee, Did I use enough exclaimation points there?)

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  14. Did the girls like the food? It all looks and sounds so neat. $50 dollars for an apple? Really?

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  15. I'm a stereotypical eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, more, more, more breakfast gal--but that Japanese breakfast looks simply divine!

    Apples are over-rated anyhoo ;p...I'd rather have extra helpings of sashimi.

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  16. I'm so glad you've written about your trip. I admit I only thought of Tokyo when thinking of Japan. It is a beautiful country. Can't wait for the next post.

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  17. i'm sorry, i don't remember anything read after "unlimited beer."

    i guess that would mean i wouldn't remember anything past my first drink.

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  18. Food Porn, Japanese style. Looks like heaven.

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  19. Beautiful photos. I am so jealous. I wish I had an embarassingly nice extended family in Japan!

    (Actually, I wish I had a decently tolerable extended family in any country. Ah, well.)

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  20. Mmmmmm. Between this and Dawn's food porn from Montreal, I am working myself into a feeding frenzy. I think I may have to go get me some miso soup...

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  21. Oh YUM! It all looks and sounds delicious. And unlimited meat and beer?! Yet another reason to add to my list of reasons why I wanna go to Japan.

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  22. SIGH. I knew you wouldn't dissapoint.

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  23. Now I am dying to go to Japan. You should take up travel writing. Just never lose the humor.

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  24. You've given me a Japanese itch. Those breakfasts sound so delicious.

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  25. Yummy in my tummy! Such generosity and hospitality.

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  26. The display is all so beautiful....these posts leave me longing to travel....

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  27. I just re commented and it got lost...but i meant to also say that your children wil remember this forever, it will be a 'remember when' dream come true....

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  28. Wow...

    I am loving this adventure...

    I can not wait to hear how your perfect relatives can make you feel even worse....
    This is going to be good...
    I'm biting a the bit!!!

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  29. I was in Tokyo 5 years ago. I still remember eating my first traditional Japanese breakfast - mmmm...

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  30. Elizabeth: The girls loved the food. We eat alot of Japanese food here, but they even ate a lot of the exotic dishes, the little foodies.

    Kira is still hooked - miso soup and rice have replaced CocoaPuffs as her favorite breakfast food.

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  31. Pete, Melissa, and anyone else inquiring about the $50 apples: I was joking about that. You can get an apple for around four dollars. It's a cup of coffee that'll set you back fifty.

    MetroDad: Yes, they did like Tony Roma's, but somehow in hindsight, us buying them a twelve dollar slab of baby back ribs and a wedge of iceberg lettuce just seems so inadequate now.

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  32. Wow, that fruit does look delish! How long are you there for??? I must say I would soon die on that breakfast routine. :)

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  33. Really great travel post. You should traver all the time just so I can read the posts.

    I didn't know about all the little pastry shops. If I were there I would visit at least one every day.

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  34. Wow. That breakfast sounds delicious to me - much better than a bowl of oatmeal or even bacon and eggs.

    But $50 for an apple? By how much are you exaggerating?

    Still. Must get to Japan someday. I won't be eating apples anyway - just Sapporo and pastries.

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  35. That presentation blows me away! Maybe if my food looked that pretty I wouldn't eat so much of it? You never know!

    Carrie

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  36. The food in Japan is just heavenly. My favorite was the yakitori and my husband's was the okonomaki.

    I had to laugh when you mentioned that you didn't have to unbuckle your pants even once, because it was the same for me. Adam and I referred to it as "the magic food" because we were always perfectly satisfied and never felt the need to overindulge. And I lost 7 pounds in the 2 weeks we were there. You can't beat that!

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  37. I want to go to Japan for breakfast.

    Did you find more that more random men were pressing their faces into the front of your halter top than usual?

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  38. Did you happen to pick up an extra pair of um, muffins, or whatever those things are? Because my halter top could use some filling help as well.

    Email me and I'll send you an address to ship them to.

    ;)

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  39. Don't they have amazing presentation? It made me want to eat everything.

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  40. you could probably make a profit selling those boobie-things on UC Santa Barbara's campus this fall...hell, on any campus.

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  41. mmmm. I love food. Your writing about it is so deliciously provocative.
    Yummm.

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  42. Good stuff! Funny, but I've heard that many of the packaged gifty-type Japanese food items do indeed contain a load of preservatives. I prefer not to think about it too much so I can obliviously eat my treats with impunity...

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