Discounted Sushi and Alpaca Wine

I. Adore. Supermarkets.

In Kansas, after I finished college, I lived about a five minute drive from Walmart, and was at least ten minutes further from an actual grocery store. This resulted in a whole lot of frozen food being put in my cart, with a couple boxes of pasta also being a staple in my grocery list. In my small hometown, there were only two grocery store options, and both offered limited options on fresh foods (and also cereal, which my parents and I both agreed was a top-5 item). As a result, I remember way too many weekends of driving to a bigger city thirty miles away, helping my mom pack an entire cart full of groceries that were supposed to last a week or two, and then having to take four or five trips in and out of the house to unload the bags from the car, even when we enlisted my father’s help.

In Japan, there’s a supermarket a three-minute walk from my apartment. It has vegetables I’ve never even heard of before, and fish I didn’t know could be eaten outside of 5-star restaurants. If you show up after nine, the day’s sushi will be marked down and you can get about ten different kinds of fish in one bentou for the equivalent of about four bucks. It’s magical.

As a result, I make homemade meals 9/10 times, using fresh ingredients rather than frozen or non-perishable. Meat comes in smaller portions, so I don’t have to plan multiple meals using one container of beef or chicken. Produce tends to have the faces of the farmers who grew it right on the label. And there’s about ten times as many alcohol choices than I’m used to back home (possibly because everyone walks to the store since it’s so close, possibly because casual drinking doesn’t have much of a stigma, or maybe because most young people here are too honest to buy alcohol when they’re underage) and best believe I take full advantage of that. My interior decorating now includes an entrance hallway lined with about 20 different kinds of empty wine bottles. I do have to go to the supermarket much more often now – about every other day – but it’s so much more convenient than back home.

Casual observation of the day.

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Life is Like a Sushi Roll (or something like that)

I fully intended to write blog posts every week. But life is crazy, and nine months after beginning this blog, I’m writing post number two.

Hey, it’s a start.

Switching from life in America to life in Asia is like seeing a koala for the first time after a life full of dogs and cats. Like, who are you? What are you doing? Why are you eating that?

For one things, trains are a beautiful invention. And Japanese trains, which run like clockwork, are absolutely fantastic. You can spend what would have been an hour-long drive listening to the same radio music you heard yesterday preparing for work, sending messages, playing a ridiculous number of Sudoku puzzles, or – gasp – taking a nap. But not eating. That’s a pretty solid no-no in public.

My parents seem to think I eat sushi every day. And, I mean, I can. But this country provides a plethora of other options, as well. Many specialties include ramen – gourmet or from a Styrofoam cup; lesbehonest, it’s still delicious – pizza, hamburgers, pasta, and OH MY GOSH curry. If you’ve never eaten curry, do yourself a favor and try it right now. Indian or Japanese, they’re both delicious. Just prepare yourself for the heat if you choose the top spiciness options; you’ll feel that heat again the next day. Of course, there’s also fish jerky, tiny dried fish that you eat eyeballs-and-all, chicken neck, cow tongue, raw horse, poisonous-if-cooked-wrong puffer fish, and this weird thing called natto that’s kind of like a mix between beans and Laffy Taffy. Lastly, one of my personal favorites in Japan is this brilliant thing called “Nomihoudai” (飲み放題), which means all-you-can-drink. Kind of like a buffet, but for alcohol. Solid 10/10, guys.

You also get to prepare answers for the inevitable question: “So, uh… Trump?” To which I usually grimace and say, “I’m so sorry.” The whole world was watching us on that one. And it’s pretty obvious we let them down.

One of the reasons I moved here was to learn Japanese, and let me tell y’all – it is SO much more difficult than I expected. You get pretty good at understanding things, picking up words here and there and puzzling them together to form a main idea, but forming sentences in a language that has a grammar structure almost entirely opposite of your own is harder than Calculus and Chemistry II combined. But if you’re not challenging yourself, what’s the point?

じゃあまたね。

 

Current favorite Japanese phrase: しょうがない

“Shouganai.”

It can’t be helped; oh well.