Wednesday, May 28, 2008

日本の料理-漬物

Most Japanese I’ve met in America tend to have more of a national pride knee-jerk “our stuff is better than your stuff” reaction than your average redneck. On top of that, group meetings and classes typically involve Americans who are interested in / open to other cultures and Japanese who moved here so they can tell everyone the place they voluntarily left for life is superior in every way. If you have trouble picturing this, think of your average New York midget with jaundice. The end result is that you have conversations between Americans who admit that America is not perfect, and Japanese who also admit that America is not perfect, such as when we do anything differently from them. Wearing shoes in the house? Dumbasses. Highest obesity rate in the world? Fatasses. Much lower suicide rate? Um, you’re being rude by bringing that up.

Naturally, this spills over to the area of food. You would think the fattest people in the world would know a little about food, but no, we are not Japanese. I actually had this conversation yesterday regarding my efforts to make J-style pickled vegetables.
女の人: did you use Japanese cucumbers?
グラント: no, I used European ones. They’re also seedless, but much fresher since they were grown in Canada.
女の人: Japanese cucumbers are better. Wait, are they different from American or European cucumbers?

So, if you don’t know the J-way of doing things, just assume that you are doing it wrong and their way is superior and whatever you are doing will make you fat and smell bad even if you’re exercising in the shower. I’ve been told Japanese mayonnaise (which they put on everything, including pancakes) is also better, but it’s only Western style mayonnaise made with the exact same ingredients we use. I’m honestly surprised they don’t make it with fish and soy like everything else. I’ve tried it and I think キュピ brand mayo is better than Kraft but not as good as Hellman’s.

I’ve really enjoyed the pickled vegetables I’ve had at the local J-restaurants and found a recipe in a J-cookbook I have at home. I’ve been experimenting with mixes of veggies and seasonings and have created an easy and decent multi-ethnic blend which would horrify the average J-person. I used a locally grown organic carrot, a Vidalia onion (that’s a region in Georgia, US), a European cucumber from Canada, two types of rice vinegar from みつかん, a J-company, Mediterranean oregano, and soy sauce. It’s good, but not as good as the restaurants make, so I went to the local J-market to buy some authentic pickled veggies (cucumbers, my fave) to remind myself of what real pickles should taste like. When I got home, the experience went like:

(eyeing package) Mmmm…J-pickles. I like J-pickles.
(opening package) Smells a little loud, but I like J-pickles.
(putting in mouth) Ewwwww, getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

I asked around and discovered 1) local restaurants serve somewhat Westernized versions of pickled vegetables since they discovered most Americans can’t handle the real thing, b) I don’t really like authentic J-food as much as I thought, and iii) real J-pickles are horribly disgusting because they’re frequently made with overpowering herbs and (big surprise) raw fish and soy. I think that’s what did me in – the しそ leaf and the ぼにと fish flakes. I think I’ll just admit that I’m nothing but a dumb redneck from the tobacco fields of Kentucky and after being raised on fried chicken, mashed potatoes and homegrown watermelon, I will never like raw fish. Japan will have to excuse me. Although I do find it ironic that, after being chastised by them for once adding the harsh flavor of soy to my rice, I discovered that they pickle the shit out of their vegetables to the point that they no longer taste anything like an actual veggie.

If anyone has a pickling recipe they want to share with me, please do so. If it involves raw fish, the Voodou wrath of Zorzan will be upon your head.

11 comments:

~Deb said...

I'm such an idiot - I just found out that ginger is pickled when they serve it with sushi. I thought it came that way.

*crosses eyes*

I have absolutely no J-recipes to share. But I do exercise in the shower. ;)

Tracy Lynn said...

*snorty laugh*

Kira said...

There's a lot of J-food I won't eat even though I DO love a lot of it. I think I gave an example to Ayako: I have no desire to try eel ice cream. Happily, she doesn't either, so I feel that we've Americanized her in at least a small way there.

metalmom said...

Ewwwww, getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

That sounds like my first attempt at oral sex.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Hey, I'd just as soon have a bowl of Cheerios than cook...AT ALL...so I definitely have no recipes for you.

I love the pickled ginger they serve at our local J restaurant. so you're saying they probably have toned that down a bit? Wow...then I'd be all "getitoutgetitoutgetitout" too.

Leesa said...

I thought Zorzan was a prescription drug or the name of a mathematician. Loved the entry, but I have no J-recipes to share. Where I am from, we fry everything.

And as far as ~deb's comment about exercising in the shower - having sex in the shower is not the same as exercising in the shower.

Joe said...

Actually, I just learned about the ginger thing from ~deb, so I'm the last person to give J-recipes.


Exercising in the shower? lol...classic

Clearly you need a Japanese girlfriend to help you in these matters. Have you considered dating a Japanese woman?

グラント said...

~deb: sensei taught me a great way to get soy sauce on the sushi without dipping it. She takes a piece of ginger, dips it, and then rubs it over the fish so the rice doesn't get soaked.

tracy: I counter with laconic fart. Checkmate.

kira: it still sounds better than Bilk.

metalmom: hopefully you've gotten better over the years. Let me know if you need a practice partner.

pq: the only way to tell would be to buy some from an Asian market (not packaged for Americans) and compare.

leesa: I was also raised on fried everything. I think it's why my tastebuds won't register raw fish as anything but disgusting.

joe: I have considered everything from asking out a J-bunny to clubbing one over the head and locking her in my closet, but they all resist my apparent charms.

Monogram Queen said...

I am a rotten cook but I do love my friend's Grandma's dilly beans (they are pickled string beans - I think).

Kerry said...

ooooooohhhh... I have an email to send you! I've gotta find it first and when i do.. its on its way to you! This post reminded me of the Japanese email about food.

Y-Maeda said...

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KO-N-NI-CHI-WA (^_^)v
I am Japanese.
I saw your wonderful site.
Please link to this site !
【Website】http://food-of-japan.blogspot.com/