School Lunch, Ep. 7

I’m a week behind in getting the school lunches to you, the adoring public. This post will be abbreviated and not detail my reactions and opinions. It’s not like you need them anyway, lol.

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April 15, 2019

  • たけのこご飯 (takenoko gohan, rice with bamboo root and peas)
  • さばじゃがメンチコロッケ (saba jyaga menchi korokke, ground and fried mackerel patty)
  • さやえんどうの和え物 (sayaendo no aemono, vegetables with bonito flakes)
  • 玉ねぎのみそ汁 (tamanegi no miso shiru, onion miso soup)

 

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April 16, 2019

  • ご飯 (gohan, rice)
  • 白身魚の甘辛だれ (shiromi zakana no amakara dare, white fish with sweet and sour sauce)
  • 大豆とひじきの炒め煮 (daizu to hijiki no itameni, white beans stir fried with seaweed)
  • 若竹汁 (waka take shiru, young bamboo miso soup)

 

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April 17, 2019

  • 食パン (shoku pan, sliced bread)
  • イチゴジャム (ichigo jamu, strawberry jelly)
  • タンドリーチキン (tandorii chikin, tandori chicken)
  • ポテトサラダ (poteto sarada, potato salad)
  • 野菜スープ (yasai suupu, vegetable soup)

 

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April 18, 2019

  • ご飯 (gohan, rice)
  • サーモンフライ (saamon furai, fried salmon)
  • たけのことあらめの煮物 (takenoko to arame no nimono, simmered bamboo with vegetables)
  • かきたま汁 (kakitama shiru, egg flour soup)

 

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April 19, 2019

  • うどん (udon, udon noodles)
  • 山菜汁 (sansan shiru, mountain vegetable soup)
  • 揚げ出し豆腐の野菜あんかけ (agedashi tofu no yasai ankake, fried tofu with vegetable sauce)
  • さくら蒸しパン (sakura mushi pan, steamed bread with sweet potatoes inside)

 

**If you haven’t read the previous episodes on school lunch, please be sure to check out Episode 1 and work your way forward!** See you next time!

goodbye

School Lunch, Ep. 8

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April 22, 2019

  • ご飯 (gohan, rice)
  • ポークカレー (pohku kare, pork curry)
  • 大豆のコロッケ (daizu no korokke, bean corquette)
  • 青じそサラダ (aojiso sarada, vegetable salad with Japanese basil dressing)

 

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April 23, 2019

  • ご飯 (gohan, rice)
  • きびなごのごまフライ(kibinago no goma furai, fried herring)
  • たけのことあらめの煮物 (takenoko to arameno nimono, simmered bamboo with vegetables)
  • かきたま汁 (kakitama shiru, egg flower soup)
  • あまなつ (amanatsu, Japanese grapefruit)

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April 24, 2019

  • 丸パン (maru pan, bread roll)
  • 鶏肉のトマト煮 (toribiku no tomatoni, simmered chicken with tomato sauce)
  • コールスローサラダ (kohrusuroh sarada, coleslaw salad)
  • かぼちゃのミルクスープ (kabocha no miruku suupu, creamy kabocha soup)

 

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April 25, 2019 (Elementary School Day, no menu information)

  • ご飯 (gohan, rice)
  • ししゃも揚げ (shishamo age, fried smelt)
  • 親子丼 (oyakodon, chicken and eggs simmered together with potatoes)
  • きゅうり (kyuuri, pickled cucumbers)
  • みそ汁 (miso shiru, miso soup)

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April 26, 2019

  • さけちらし (sakechirashi, rice mixed with salmon and edamame)
  • 鶏肉のお茶揚げ (toriniku no ocha age, green tea battered fried chicken)
  • すまし汁 (sumashi shiru, a traditional clear-brothed soup)
  • お茶プリン (ocha purin, green tea flavored pudding)
  • Fun fact: There was so much rice left over from the teachers’ table that I took it upon myself to make rice balls and stash them in the office fridge. I hope they got eaten.

**If you haven’t read the previous episodes on school lunch, please be sure to check out Episode 1 and work your way forward!** See you next time!

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School Lunch, Ep. 6

Hello, again! It’s me with your school lunch update. You’ll have to excuse my tardiness. On Fridays, I want to ignore everything I’m meant to be doing. Unfortunately, that means remaining in a stale state, staring dumbly off into the distance.

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Thursday’s Lunch

It’s Monday again and I need to shake off the funk. I present to you Thursday’s and Friday’s lunches! Let’s kickstart today’s entry with Thursday. That day, I was at one of my elementary schools and was once again, greeted with sekihan (see here). Can you guess at the other items on my tray?

Fried Fish
It’s fried fish. What more can I say about it? Can one even cook it poorly? I suppose, if I recollect hard enough, I have overcooked fish before. But that’s for another time and is an incident I hope to never repeat.

Anyway, the fish is always nice and tender in the school lunches. This time around, there were no bones to unpleasantly poke my gums, either. Ashley Rating: 7/10shake it off

Clear Vegetable Soup
The joys of not having the menu in front of me means I get to come up with some Original Titles and Names for these foods. Is “clear vegetable soup” catching on yet? No? Well, maybe some day.

 

This soup had seaweed (wakame), carrots, enoki mushrooms, fish cakes, and… a kind of green. I think it’s 小松菜 (komatsuna), Japanese mustard greens. The broth must have been fish-based as well. If I ignore the fact that my lunch was cold by the time students were done dishing themselves up, it was quite good. Ashley Rating: 7/10

Cherry Blossom Goodness
This dessert is among my favorites that appear in kyushoku. It’s a very simple affair, really. Frozen, cut up strawberries mixed into a strawberry Jell-O and topped with a precious dollop of whipped cream. You can guarantee I hoard that cream until the last possible moment so it’s the only flavor lingering on my tongue. Need I mention that, among the students, the Rock-Scissors-Paper competition is fierce when there are some cups left over? Ashley Rating: 9/10

Overall rating: 7.8/10

Thank you for sticking with me up to this point! Are you ready for Friday’s lunch?

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Friday’s Lunch

That soup looks rather unpleasant, doesn’t it? I wasn’t too offput because it had pork in it and my Southern upbringing can’t refuse anything pig-related. This time, I DO have the menu description with me.

  • 小松菜ご飯 (komatsuna gohan, rice mixed with mustard greens and carrot)
  • 花形和風ハンバーグ (hana-gatachi wah-fuu hanbaagu, flower-shaped Japanese-style hamburger)
  • キャベツのみそ汁 (kyabetsu miso shiru, miso soup with cabbage and pork)
  • 桜ぜリー (sakura zehrii, cherry blossom Jell-O)

Rice with Mustard Greens and Carrot
I enjoy mixed-up rice. Takes the boredom with plain rice away. I also feel the rice becomes a little bit healthier for me when there’s goodies in it. Ashley Rating: 7/10

america
OK, so Stephen isn’t holding a hamburger, but a hot dog is close enough.

Japanese-style Hamburger
Japanese-styled anything American-related is fun for me. I still crave the 100% beefy wonderland that is one of the symbols of the US, but Japan does try. This hamburger patty, though filled with nourishment, was not one of my favorites flavor-wise. I wonder if the recipe changed?

Anyway, you can put money down that it had tofu in it. Ground chicken, bean flour, onion, carrots, and ginger were also mixed in. Ashley Rating: 6/10

Going off on a tangent here, but there is a young celebrity named Mr. Shachihoko (Maeda Teruyoshi) whose wife, Miharu, fiercely enjoys cooking on a budget. I kid you not when this woman made a whole appetizer, entree, and side menu deal with daikon as the main ingredient. It’s kind of insane when you make something mimic something else. Did I mention she’s 23 years older than him? That still blows my mind, but love is love, right? Moving on.

Cabbage-pork Miso
The disturbing color is from the miso that was used. Don’t let it upset you too much. The taste was pretty basic, albeit a little sweet. The sweetness was surely from the cabbage. With the pork thrown in, it was rather hearty. For me personally, I prefer something palette-ly refreshing to wash out the starch of the rice and the thickness of the burger. Overall, it wasn’t my favorite miso to date. Ashley Rating: 6/10

Cherry Blossom Jell-O
Please don’t confuse this with the Cherry Blossom Goodness. This had no whipped cream, but was truer to the flavor. All this was was cherry blossom-flavored Jell-O with small bits of cherry in it. It was a light and revitalizing way to finish off the lunch. Ashley Rating: 8/10

Overall rating: 8.3/10

Please be sure to catch up on the latest School Lunch episodes by cruising Cuisine of the Middle Class. and either searching for “school lunch” or looking at Most Recent on the right.

See you next time!

goodbye

School Lunch, Ep. 5

Good afternoon, everyone! We’re finally getting a bit of those April showers here in Japan. The downside to that is that it’s chilly. Soon we’ll be wishing it back when summer beats down on us.blerf

Anyway, I hope your lunch hour went well. What did you eat? I remember eating fried chicken and potato salad the majority of the time when I was working my previous job. Remembering that grease fest makes my stomach churn.

The meal I ate today was relatively vegetarian friendly. Let’s take a closer look!

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Today’s lunch:

  • White bread
  • Tofu nuggets (mashed tofu mixed with various vegetables)
  • Pickled cabbage
  • Minestrone soup
  • Banana

White Bread
I have yet to see anything but white bread step up to the lunch plate. Sometimes, we’ll get rolls with raisins or chunks of apple inside, but that’s about as classy as a student lunch gets. Since I’ve been trying to eat healthily for the past month (or thereabouts), I really wasn’t looking forward to choking the processed wheat down. Ashley Rating: 5/10

Tofu Nuggets
It’s certainly not unusual to see tofu-based products be served. In fact, I really enjoy the tofu hamburger my school makes. The combo today was carrots, ground chicken, hijiki (a kind of black seaweed), and leek. They were dipped in an egg-flour wash to be fried up and topped with ketchup. Ashley Rating: 7/10

Pickled Cabbage
Pickles are pickles. I briefly researched pickling methods in Japan and one of the favorite ways to do it via salt, but today’s menu says only sugar was used. My belief system is sketchy. (You can learn more about the common Japanese pickles here.) While some might appreciate the sour crunch, I couldn’t handle the squeak on my teeth. Ashley Rating: 6/10

Minestrone Soup
I’m an amateur soup eater. If I’m hungry, just about anything will taste good. Compared to most professional soups, the school’s soup is very plain. The flavor that greeted my tongue was lackluster and basic. Perhaps the bacon was its only redeeming factor. Ashley Rating: 7/10

Have you read the latest episode? Be sure to follow me or check back every day for a new lunch! See you next time and happy eating!

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School Lunch, Ep. 4

Before we get started, have you read my other entries on school lunch? Please be sure to catch up by reading Episodes One, Two, and Three.

And awa~y we go~!

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School lunch is back! And bo~y am I grateful. Just because a new school year starts doesn’t mean school lunches are immediately in effect. When they do kick into gear, the first lunch of the year is typically a kind of Good Luck fiesta. All of the best dishes come into play.

And, just between you and I, I don’t like being responsible for bringing my lunch to school. ¥281 (about $3.00) for a full meal is very convincing and, not to mention, cheap!

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Today’s lunch was:

  • Sekihan (赤飯, sweet red sticky rice with adzuki beans)
  • Teriyaki chicken
  • Isobe-ae (磯辺和え, pickled vegetables with roasted seaweed)
  • Sumashi jiru (すまし汁, a clear broth soup)
  • Strawberry stick cake

Sekihan
Red sticky rice is a fun upgrade from the every day white sticky rice. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s even healthy to eat. To bring out the sweetness, salt and black sesame seeds are added. Hefty, textured, complemented the soup nicely. Ashley Rating: 8/10

Teriyaki Chicken
I wish I could say that I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like teriyaki chicken, bu~t you should never count your chickens before they hatch. I watched a boy sitting next to me at the lunch table struggle to eat his. He’s not the first I’ve seen to shy away from The Original White Meat. Ashley Rating: 8/10

Isobe-ae
Either these vegetables were cooked in vinegar water or they weren’t pickled for very long. Any vegetables can be used, but today’s lunch included lotus root, cabbage, and carrots. I honestly felt today’s salad was more of a boiled vegetable medley more than anything. Ashley Rating: 5/10

Sumashi-jiru
For me personally, clear broth soups are a pain for me to achieve. I’m sure there’s a trick that only being raised in Japan can give you. The soup itself is normally very deep tasting and takes on the ingredients’ personalities. Today’s was very earthy as it used mushrooms and onions. Unfortunately, mine tasted… interesting. There was a lingering something that remained on my tongue. Ashley Rating: 6/10

Strawberry Stick Cake
The texture was good — nice and spongy. My only complaint is that it was too sweet. Because I don’t think it has appeared in school lunch up to this point, for now, I’m not a fan. Ashley Rating: 4/10

What kind of things did you look forward to when you ate school lunch? Did you even eat school lunch or did you bring your mom’s homemade goodness? In my case, it was my dad’s slap-it-together fun boxes. I’ll have to introduce you to the PBB&J sandwich.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next update!

If you’d like to stay more on top of what’s going on, please follow me on Instagram @ashleyinjapan and on Facebook Page Ashley in Japan: From Sin City

goodbye

School Lunch, Ep. 3

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Good morning, everyone. It’s Friday here in Japan and the sun has just crested over the hills. The temperature is 7 degrees (C) but it feels a lot colder. What’s even more upsetting is that the school refuses to turn on the heater.

Please excuse me while I slowly wither away inside.

This is a lunch I had two weeks ago. There’s rice and milk, the regular players, but let’s introduce the others.

  • Stir fry – made from bean sprouts, a green vegetable (I can’t recall the name) and bacon. I had seconds, so it must have been tasty enough. Ashley Rating: 8/10
  • Pineapple Jell-O (パインゼリー, pah-in zeh-ree) – This is pretty easy to understand. It’s pineapple flavored Jell-O that was, unfortunately, frozen before being served. I chuckled as the students complained that it was more like pineapple sherbert. Ashley Rating: 6/10
  • Curry-flavored mabodofu (カレー麻婆豆腐, kah-reh mah-boh-dohfu) – Containing carrots, tofu, and various other vegetables with ground pork, this wasn’t as greasy feeling as its restaurant counterpart. With the rice, though, it tasted bland to me. Some would swear that it’s the best school lunch has to offer. Ashley Rating: 7/10

School Lunch, Ep. 2

Good afternoon, everyone. I hope your day is going well. I’m making use of this blog today in order to fight the after-lunch sleep crunch. As an ALT, I do not participate in student-teacher-parent conferences and… that’s what’s going on this week before Winter Break starts. My afternoons are totally and utterly free.

Here is a lunch I ate last week.

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It consists of fried fish, rice, and miso soup. But this day was a bit special due to the presence of a Japanese dessert and Goody Rice (no, Goody Rice is not a thing. It’s just my thing).

  • Japanese dessert: くずまんじゅう(kuzumanju); kuzu is a kind of plant that gives its roots to be dried and powered. When water is added, it creates a starch and then is used to surround a filling; in this case, matcha paste. It was a little too… プニプニ (poo-nee poo-nee, squishy) for my taste and I’m not a fan of matcha even though I can tolerate drinking green tea. Ashley Rating: 6/10.
  • Goody Rice: 揚げ豆腐 (agedoufu) and corn; this is usually a relatively plain tasting Goody Rice but is decent where nutrients are involved. Ashley Rating: 6/10.
  • Main dish: fried fish; I think cornstarch is the main boss in the batter. It wasn’t heavy like flour is. I can’t recall if there was seasoning or not. But c’mon, it’s fried fish. Fried anything is delicious! Ashley Rating: 8/10.
  • Miso soup: 豚汁 (tonjiru); miso soup with vegetables, pork, and tofu. A typical tonjiru contains burdock root, carrots, and daikon. When made well, it’s my favorite thing to eat in the winter. Ashley Rating: 9/10

School Lunch, Ep. 1

Here is another attempt to bring you something interesting from my life in Japan: school lunch. After watching the 22-minute educational video provided by Life Where I’m From, you’ll be shocked to hear that “school lunch” is a recently added institution. Granted, after WW2, there was a lot of “recent activity” going on in the countries that participated. But, I digress.

Upon my arrival to Japan and having school lunch recommended to me brought back childhood horrors of soggy grilled cheeses, plain-bunned hot dogs, and the dreaded Special K cereal. Given a choice between an American lunch and a Japanese one, I’d pick the Japanese one in a heartbeat.

(As I’m writing this, I’m having the funny feeling I’ve talked to you about school lunch before… or at least mentioned it. Anyway!)
20181129_114828Let’s take a minute to exercise your brain and calm your nerves before you freak out and say, “OHMYGOD I am NOT eating THAT!” What do you see? Something white, something kind of brown, and green vegetables and carrots in a broth. Basically, a starch, a protein, vitamins, and minerals.

In the upper, left-hand corner, there’s plain rice. Next to it is a local milk. Below that are potstickers or gyoza (餃子). They look a tad stiff, don’t they? Poor things. They were deep fried before being served. The filling is a simple pork and veg mixture. Next, there is a salad of stirfried bean sprouts with some bacon for flavor. Last, there’s the soup. Green leafy vegetables, carrots and onions make up the bulk of it while quail eggs add a hit of protein.

A lot of my cooking at home resembles this structure.

See you next time!