Tuesday, February 16, 2010

They see me rollin', they hatin'...

The first Wednesday in February is some kind of good luck day in Japan, except no one really knows where it came from, or what its name is. However, that didn't stop me from participating in the fun. One part of the day consists of throwing red beans around to cast out the devil, or bad luck, or something like that, I never really got a straight answer as to what the beans represented. The other part of the day is all about eating large sushi rolls in a lucky direction, which changes every year. This year, the direction was west-southwest. Being the intrepid traveler that I am, I decided to roll some of my own sushi, with a little help from my friends. Isn't too hard, all you need is rice, seaweed, rice vinegar, and whatever you want to fill the roll with. Add the vinegar to the fresh rice, and let it cool. Dry out the seaweed. and lay it flat on the sushi rolling mechanism (a bunch of long sticks tied together). Interesting note, there are two sides to most seaweed sold in Japanese stores: a rough side for the rice, and a smooth side for your hands. I never noticed this before then. Anyways, mush out the rice all over the seaweed, lay out your fillings in the center, and then roll the sticks halfway while applying pressure. Then roll the whole way, squeeze, and eat! My first roll was a mess, but the second one came out pretty good. The last picture is my happy sushi face. I'll have to try this again!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh the burning...

About a week ago Lisa, Hiro, and I tried a ramen place in Matsuyama we had heard about called Ka-ramen. We had a pretty hard time finding the place, since it wasn't marked, and everyone gave us the wrong directions, but after about a half hour of walking in circles, we managed to find it. It's a little Korean noodle place, pretty hole in the wall. However, they do have a challenge. Their ramen comes in 25 different levels of spicy, and from what I was told, if you can eat their spiciest ramen in less than ten minutes, you get to put your name on the wall. Not one to shy away from a challenge, especially one involving spicy food, I confidently ordered a 25x bowl. I assumed that the spiciness would come from a special broth, or maybe some hot peppers added into the mix. Well, I wasn't too far off with the latter prediction. Turns out that the 25x stands for the 25 scoops of ground chili pepper the cook dumped into my bowl of ramen. You can see the picture up top. The other guy running the place hands me the bowl, grins, puts a timer right next to me, and says, "Go."

So basically this is a bowl of chili pepper with some noodles and flavored water added to it. The consistency was quite thick, a textbook example of a non-Newtonian fluid. Actually, for those playing the home game, the technical classification would be a dilatant fluid. Well, for anyone who knows their fluid mechanics, that sort of fluid is very difficult to swallow, even when it's not made up of capsaisin-laden particles, and there's no time limit. Really, the stuff wasn't that spicy, I eat chilis all the time, but it was so thick I just couldn't eat it fast enough. One more minute and I would have had it. Anyways, the final result is the second picture. I think it gives you a better idea of exactly how much pepper was in this bowl. So no signature on the wall for me. I don't think I'll do the challenge again, it just didn't taste good at all.

And as for the aftermath... well, speaking of Newton, I think his third law about equal and opposite reactions pretty well covers it. I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Diet Coke, now with Fiber!

Yes, the title says it all. I was in the local Circle K when I came across this gem. It's a diet soda that makes you more regular. I have no idea how much fiber is actually in it, since I can't read the nutrition facts, but I didn't notice anything. Can't be too much, or else I would imagine the soda would be somewhat thicker. What will they think of next?

More Italianese Food

A friend of ours showed us to this cute little Italian place in the city. The only things on the menu were pasta and lasagna. I chose the latter. Much better than the mall's Italian food. So good, in fact, that I took a video of it before I ate it just so you could watch and your mouth could water. And if you really like the video, and can read Japanese, I'll include the picture they had on their staircase. It's the recipe. Yum!

We had Rand, they have ramen

On Mondays Lisa (my fellow teacher) and I eat lunch in the medical school cafeteria and hold a chat club. What that means in practice is eating lunch together and watching as our students look in our direction, then walk quickly away. They're a little shy about speaking outside of the classroom, which isn't really a surprise considering how reticent they are to speaking inside the classroom. Anyways, this week I snagged a picture of my lunch just to show the difference between what I ate at Vandy, and what these guys get every day. The main dish is a nice big bowl of ramen, the kitchen staff rotate what type of ramen it is every week, not that I ever really know the identities of any of the types, but at least it's something new. The top left dish is kimchi, yum. In the middle is a tempura style eggplant, also yum. The thing on the right is a breaded mashed potato, mystery meat mix, bathed in katsu sauce, which is similar to A1. To wash it all down, a nice cup of green tea. All in all, much better than Best Wok, and about a hundred times more healthy. The food is good enough that it almost makes up for the fact that our students avoid us like we have the plague. Oh well, maybe they'll be less shy next semester.


Yah, I realize it's been about a month since I posted last, I apologize. It's been cold here, I've been busy with applications, insert excuse here. In any case, I'll start posting again now that it's been warming up, and I've been venturing outside more. Most of the stuff is inane little tidbits I've come across over the past month or so, mostly having to do with what I eat or drink, but that isn't really different from what I've been posting about all along. So without further ado, here's something interesting: boob ice cream.

I know, it's not the real name of the dessert, but that's what it looks like. Here's how you eat it. First, remove the plastic packaging. Second, cut off the nipple. Third, put your mouth on it and suck as hard as you can, because the ice cream is as firm as a rock. Congratulations, after giving yourself permanent inner ear damage from the pressure change, you get vanilla ice cream. Without a doubt, one of the hardest methods to eat ice cream. I had two of these little delicacies, the first time I ate it, most of it melted, so when I got to the end, the liquid part squirted all over my shirt. The second time, I squeezed it too hard, causing a massive explosion, and showering my clothes, my couch, my walls, and just about every wall in my living room with ice cream. Clearly, I must be doing something wrong. Still, vanilla ice cream is good, so I might try this again.