Monday, September 6, 2010

Food Musings

While it was Labor Day back in "the States" yesterday, it was just another working Monday for us. Lately we've been watching Jamie Oliver's "Jamie Does" show. It's got us pining for Europe with their crusty breads, stinky cheeses, fresh herbs and amazing desserts. We may just have to live there again some day. That show is frustrating for us though because he's always making it look so easy. Half the time he's cooking outside over a fire, for goodness sakes. If we only we could find the ingredients (or even close approximations) here in Japan.

With the exception of the fried stuff like tempura (which is delicious), vegetarian Japanese food is almost too healthy. We live in Nagano, which is known for soba. That's buckwheat noodles, folks--healthy much? We like soba cold on hot days like we've been having. It's called zarusoba. The recipe we use is this one. Warning: John says washing soba is even more annoying than washing rice.

Sometimes we miss things from a previous life. John reminisces about "mushy peas" with Chinese gravy from his UK days. I had a hankering for Argentine empanadas last night so I made this approximation with gyoza wrappers (essentially wonton wrappers but in a circle instead of a square). They work really well. Even though they don't taste much like the real thing, they're a lot easier than rolling out empanada dough.

I ended up throwing all kinds of stuff in them like spinach, napa cabbage, tofu, corn, parsley, dill, salt and pepper cheese. It's about 400 yen for 100 grams but it's worth it to eat good cheese every once in a while. I guess they turned out more like baked gyoza than empanadas :)

We even had some high fructose corn syrup free barbecue sauce (always a challenge to find) that we brought back from Bali. That's the American in us coming out--we love our condiments, don't we? We hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend with lots of condiments to choose from. Variety is the spice of life, after all. (Not rice 2-3 times a day as is the case here).

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