Ok. So the thing is, Yuriko is a great cook. No doubt. And she is very creative with food.
I mean, this is totally not her fault. But.
(long post. click to read)
Let me try to illustrate with pictures.
So, on my first night stay she made us oden, miso soup, maki with pickle in it, boiled spinach, this veg pickle that resembles choysum stems (quite nice), yellow radish pickle, ringo, pasta salad, kimchi and pumkin dessert (not in the photo).
There are 5 different types of pickles in this dinner. It’s apparently a winter thing cuz in the old days people store veg up for the cold days with no crops. Not that i have a problem with it. I love pickles.
Oden. These extra photos are to demonstrate how excited i felt on the first day. Like wow i’m gonna have like 10 different blog entries just about Yuriko’s cooking. Later you will notice how the phototaking decreases dramatically by the day.
We had several choices of topping for our white rice. I bravely picked this red gross looking thingie called mentaiko for the first time in my life and was hopelessly addicted ever since.
So that was Day 1, wonderful, right?
I was still very gung-ho about doing this Happy Family Meal photo everyday.
We had salted salmon fish. Pasta salad. Oden (Yuriko warmed it up and added some tofu), miso soup, kimchi (Yuriko re-heated it and added some new unidentified ingredients), radish pickle (holy! It has turned from Yellow to PINK!!!666), choysum-like veg pickle (i still like it a lot), ringo, and pumpkin dessert.
For lunch we had Mos Burger. And little did i know that it was probably the most meaty meal i’d have in Nagano. It actually contained patties that were made out of a large animal.
We had the same whatever leftover but Yuriko made us Omelette rice with strawberries (which isn’t all that new after all, if you think about it).
Ai loved it.
And an onsen tamago as a bonus.
By Day 3, i had recognized the meal pattern that has been established in this family and had come to terms with myself that it is, for a fact that we were, indeed, going to eat leftovers everyday, for the rest of my stay here. But Yuriko would introduce a new dish to the table every meal, which is the main star dish of the meal, and i kinda consider that as Yuriko’s daily reward for our obedient eating habit.
So today we had a (relatively) new combination of dish, which is Egg + Sausage + Strawbies (which is not all that new after all, if you think about it).
And we also had miso, pasta salad, radish pickle, kimchi, choysum-like pickle (i kept eating them), ringo… (the reason why i keep repeating the name of the dishes although they are clearly illustrated as so in the picture is a desperate attempt to make a point that they sound repetitive).
And also this huge tofu-like ball with mochi in it i think.
I was feeling a bit adventurous today. So i wanted to show my bravery and my willingness to embrace full Japanese culture with an open heart, i asked for Natto (fermented soybean) topping. And it was a huge, huge mistake. That was the first time i didn’t finish my rice during my entire stay.
Well to be honest, it wasn’t atrocious at all. Natto to non-Japanese people is like the equivalent of Durian to Japanese people. Like when a Japanese comes to Malaysia, you ask if he/she can eat Durian. And when you go to Japan, they ask if you can eat natto. That’s about the only gross thing they have, i guess. (apart from some tail-wiggling raw fish, which is yummy, and raw horse meat, which is yummy, and ika no shiokara, which is smelly, but yummy…) (ok la they have quite a lot of gross food but nothing compared to Chinese people. CHICKEN FEET!!!)
Anyway, back to natto. It was quite edible except the gooey part. I hate food that is gooey. Okra, Japanese mountain yam. Yucks.
Let me quote KY on his thoughts about natto.
It tastes like a bowl of raw bean (slightly gone off/bad) being frozen for years until you take it out, blow your nose and cough up thick phlegm and then proceed to spit/dribble both the bodily fluid into the bowl, mix it up well, then pass it to an eighty-year-old toothless lady (who is willing to take up this part-time natto making part-time job) to chew for a good 5 minutes, and regurgitate back into the bowl whereby it is then ready to serve.
KY also has a shorter description of it, which includes two different bodily fluids that are being discharged from two different lower-body orifices which i prefer to not talk about here.
And I prefer to think that it tastes like coffee bean.
Wow we have Gyoza as the, you know, star dish. And notice why i highlighted the veg pickle?
Can you see? IT GOT REFILLED!!!!
I kept eating it hoping that i would finish it and then hopefully Yuriko will replace it with something else—i dunno–pink choysum, bronze cabbage, whatever. But it. got. refilled.
Imagine my horror.
Star dish. I really appreciate it.
We made the Gyoza!!! (We–refers to, you know, we the family and not you, kind of thing. I could lie that i have become a Gyoza expert, but i’d like to admit that she made it. I didn’t. I was just helping her to hold it up for photos.)
Otosan came back from work. It was rare. So we took a family photo. I think it was the day Kai started saying hello to me.
For breakfast we had… i dunno. I didn’t bother to take a picture. So, use your imagination. There are a few combinations you can play with.
Cheese and Ham toast.
Star Dish. Pregnant smelt and nuggets and pear and broccoli.
Then the rest we have, you know, the usual.
Fried rice. The rest: self explanatory.
However, dinner was a bit special that day. Since it was my last night there, we had a mini Christmas Party.
Chuen Ka Fook.
The usual and something new.
Some fancy maki and Korokke bought from the nearest mart.
Pumpkin and red bean dessert with mochi. I hate mochi. But you know what? That day was Winter Solstice!! So this is the Japanese version of Tang Yuan!!!
And we have something specialer!!
WE MADE A CAKE!!
(We—here refers to me and Yuriko. Although my part was simply squeezing some raw cream and planting some strawbies onto the cake.)
Yuriko baked a sponge cake. When it was ready, we (i prefer collective pronouns in certain occasions) cut it into halves.
Spead raw cream onto the lower half and planted strawbies on it.
Put the top over it.
Cover it with cream and more strawbies.
Our Christmas cake!!
HAHAHA look at their expression.
Ok that was very much my every (almost vegetarian: the closest thing we had to something resembling meat is prolly, the ambiguous mashed up fish paste in the oden and the pregnant smelt) meal in Nagano. Like i said, Yuriko cooks great food. Honest.
When i left Tokyo and arrived Nara in the morning. TK asked what i wanted for lunch.
“Meat. Any fat, oily, meat. Please.”
And we went for Chinese.