I am a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying the diversity and evolution of whelks. This summer I was sponsored by the NSF (USA) and JSPS (Japan) to work with Dr. Seiji Hayashi at Nagoya University in Japan to collect buccinid gastropod (whelk) tissue samples and examine whelk shell collections at musems throughout Japan. Sugoi! Some of the snails that I study are pictured to the right.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On food

Japanese food, in character and diversity, could constitute a blog all by itself. For this reason I will only superficially deal with it as a topic. That and because I am a vegetarian most of the time (termed by some clever person, "a flexitarian") and try not to eat unsustainable fish (e.g. tuna) I have had little to no exposure to lots of well-known Japanese dishes. In fact, being (an almost) vegetarian in Japan is hard! All that being said, here are some of my experiences of Japanese food.

My first opportunity to "flex" was with breakfast sandwiches of corned beef at the house of my host family. This is ocha-zuke, basically rice and seasonings in green tea as a kind of broth. Pretty good!This is nabe from my farewell party. Some of the little light-colored bits are pieces of animal fat that render into the bubbling stew to which cabbage, other vegetables, and meat are added. This was another "flexing" opportunity.This is nabe toward the end of the meal when after all the vegetables and meat have been eaten, udon noodles are added.The other most popular noodle variety in Japan is soba. Here is my friend Ai (who I met at Starbucks!) with a beautiful dinner of soba.This is a plate of sashimi, which is raw fish without rice.This is the conveyer belt of the conveyer-belt-sushi restaurant I went to during my first week in Japan.And this is a typical lunch of mine from the Nagoya student cafeteria. Clockwise starting between the teas at 12 o clock, is green tea, a salad of cabbage, seaweed, and Japanese pumpkin called kabocha with sesame dressing, miso soup, spinach prepared as horenso no gomaae, rice with soy sauce, more kabocha, and brown rice tea or genmai cha.This is sweet green tea flavored ice with sweet red bean and chewy rice balls inside. It is gigantic, delicious, and the popular treat to get after visiting Ise-Jingu (see previous post).These are Okinawan doughnuts called sata andagi.This was my lunch last weekend. The drink was a delicious iced green tea (powered matcha style), red bean, and rice ball concoction (see a trend?). The sandwich was sort of a panini with squid. I cant read Japanese and in the picture menu all the sandwiches look pretty much the same, so I take a gamble and just choose one. This time it was squid.At a similar style cafe to one above, this sandwich is an option. I should have ordered it just for its menu description!Finally, one of the things that I almost cannot believe about food in Japan, is the consistently HUGE size of apples. Seriously. I have never seen anything like it.Some more information about Japanese food is here as well as all over the internet. Itadakimas!

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