|Beautiful autumn opening dish|
This post is my contribution to the "Eat, Drink, Cook" Japanese bloggers' carnival.
The other contributions are:
Eating My Way Around an Island by Big Red Dots and Squggly Inkblots. Furiida blogs about her experiences as a JET Programme participant in the rural prefecture of Oita.
The History of Yakiniku by Angry Gaijin. Cameron Ohara is a Gaikokujin (foriegner) living in Japan. But get this - he was actually Japanese in a previous life! Now it's all he can do to get his Japanese comrades to look beyond his red hair and tall nose and see the Japanese human that exists within!
Samurai Sushi by Gaijin Explorer. Zacky Chan studies aikido and kyudo, and informally practices whatever else is relevant. He can usually be found on his days off exploring forests and mountains on his mountain bike.
Check them out!
|The starter course, Japanese-style restaurant|
For vegetarians who are preparing to start their ALT stint, enkai and other work parties are a source of considerable fear and anxiety. When I first got here I was so worried about causing “meiwaku” with my vegetarianism that I just paid for the parties and tried to drink my money’s worth. Which is hard since alcohol is very cheap in Japan and enkai are very expensive. At the second enkai where I did this the school nurse told me that it was ridiculous, summoned the manager and asked what they could make that I could eat. They slapped some salad together and after much apologising, told me that if I had asked in advance they could have done a whole separate menu for me. Since work parties are usually “course menus”, meaning everyone pays a set fee for set dishes, I had assumed that any variation would be impossible. The next party we had, I asked the organiser to request a vegetarian meal for me but hastened to add that I’d still come if it wasn’t possible. The organiser asked me to write a list of what I couldn’t eat, just to be sure, and there were no problems. In coming up to four years of enkai I have never had a party at the same venue twice, and never had a venue refuse to make a vegetarian menu for the same price as the course, including Japanese and seafood restaurants. However, when I say vegetarian I need to emphasise what I said in my introductory post about being vegetarian in Japan: You need to decide how bendy your rules are. I don’t ask if my miso soup was made with fish stock and I don’t ask if the pudding is thickened with gelatine. If you are religiously or unwaveringly vegetarian, it might be impossible to have a separate menu because even the sauces and seasonings would have to be made from scratch for you. With that disclaimer made, I haven’t had any problems at all, despite being very worried about it before I came. So, as I wrap up my ALT tenure, I thought I’d show you some examples of enkai meals I’ve enjoyed over the past few years. The photos are all sneakily (and frequently drunkenly) taken with my phone, so apologies for the poor quality.
Most of these photos are from autumn (fall) parties, I don't always get given so many mushrooms! This last photo is from a different kind of experience.
|The green stuff is konnyaku (devil tongue?) sashimi. Restaurants often try to give me something similar to what everyone else is having (in this case, obviously, sashimi)|
|Autumn mushroom steamed custard|
|Simple but yummy~ everyone else had grilled fish. My packet has three kinds of mushrooms, onions and sweat potato|
|I love the effort they've gone to using a grilled shiitake mushroom for nigirizushi|