Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Daily Bread

This first week in Tokyo has provided countless experiences of difference from our usual lives.

Lets just focus on this one: dinner.

By the time I got here, Greg had scouted out two stores. Both of them are about the square footage of the produce section in one of our Connecticut stores. Everything is packaged in tiny portions. E.g. 5 stalks of asparagus packaged together. Chicken comes in packaged in individual breast or packages of two. No more.

Many things on the shelves are unrecognizable. The cuisine here is simply so different. Duh. The experience of this is not so much cognitive as it is physical. Providing for lowest level of Maslow's needs takes a surprising amount of energy and ingenuity.

We walk to the market and back. The closet one is about a 7 minute walk, the cheapest about a 15 minute walk. We have to limit ourselves to shopping for daily needs. Every day about 3 pm, I go to the store and wander through until I come up with an idea of what to cook.

Simple chicken, rice and steamed broccoli is always an option. A good thing, as that was a staple meal for us at home. Noodles of some kind stir fried with vegetables and perhaps a small piece of meat is also an easy option. Fortunately both of these were fairly staple meals for us at home. But I don't think I'll be making any Mac and cheese or quesadilla anytime soon.

Tonight I took on spaghetti and meatballs. First the tomatoes: In the US you get about a 1/4 of a aisle of canned tomato. And cans of all sizes. I worked hard to find a small can, and there was but one choice. The ground beef came in packages of about 1/3 lbs. I did not find bread crumbs, so I toasted some bread and then chopped it small. Luckily noodles is something they get here, provided they are long and thin. No farfalle or penne, but plenty of spaghetti!

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