Japan: Food

If you were to make a list of the foods that I won’t eat and then make a diet that consists almost entirely of them, you’d get pretty close to what I thought the Japanese ate.

As it happens, I was wrong. Or at least, there were plenty of options available for someone who won’t eat fish or pickles. But that’s not to say that there weren’t odd or interesting things.

Most hotels did not include breakfast and, since the trip was turning out to be really expensive, I decided just to pop into a “convenie” and get some bread products. While it’s fair to say that you don’t get a lot of the varieties at home — melon bread, lots of things with custard in the middle — it was the packaging that was most entertaining.

I know that this isn’t supposed to be showing a spanking bear but can you tell me with a straight face that it doesn’t look like that?

Not all Japanese food is funny or weird, though. In a sense, one of the defining qualities of Japanese food, like French food, is the care and attention that goes into it, both in terms of the combination of flavours and in the presentation.

While I was in Matsumoto, there was a large and well attended festival all about soba, a type of noodle. It’s fascinating to see this kind of thing anyway, but it was raining and otherwise miserable, so where else was I going to go of a Saturday morning?

One of the cool things was the demonstrations of how the noodles were made.

They make it look so easy, throwing around the dough and all their neat rolling and cutting, but I’m sure if I tried I’d just end up with an inedible blob of proto-pasta.

Another neat thing is seeing a lot of unusual food. In this case, food before it’s in a state that you would normally eat. These are wasabi plants.

The other bonus of going to a food festival is that there’s always something good to eat. There were two stalls that were especially well attended, with queues passing a good number of other stands. I’m not sure what was so good about them. Standing in line is not my cup of tea even back home.

What I had tasted pretty good to me and there seemed to be no complaints from the locals.