Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Little Taste of Japan

I was in the city yesterday for doula meetings (3!  What a difference from a few years ago!).
My first meeting started early and thus ended early which luckily gave me enough time to grab a quick lunch.
Living in a small town with only a few fast food joints and good ol' home cooking type restaurants 
has me jumping at any and every chance to live it up and eat ethnic.

Japanese cuisine, here I come!  

It was my first time in a Japanese restaurant, and I must say that I was pleased.  Classy, beautiful
and modern looking.  There were no fish tanks (thank goodness!  No one likes watching fish take a poo
while eating something they can't identify.), no gaudy streamers and no pre-wrapped fortune cookies...
which means I wasn't at the local chinese eatery.  The ceiling was a painted black tin, and the plates were 
earthen pottery.

I was dining alone so I chose a quiet table in the corner where I could observe without being watched.
I chose from the menu (in English, though I really had no idea what I was in for) and settled back.  I
started wishing I'd brought in a book.  There is something slightly awkward about trying to look entertained
when you're all by yourself.  My food came in record time and it was beautiful.


I had a little clay teacup with green tea and a dish of miso soup.  There was a funny shaped spoon in the soup which led me to believe I should eat it with that.  I looked around desperately for someone to mimic.  Were they using their funny spoon?  Or should I just drink from the rim?  I went back to my old adage...WWTD?  What Would Toni Do?  I did my best.

With the soup and tea I had a woven basket with square dishes each filled with a different food.  Another ceramic dish for sauce (tempura, Tempra? like the paint?  No!  For the tempura.  Ah, yes.  I dipped everything in it since I wasn't really sure which of the foods was tempura), and sticky rice in a perfect sphere on a side plate.  But, no fork.  Only some very classy silver plated chopsticks.

And then I realized that these were the real deal chopsticks.  All those other wooden, pre-wrapped chopsticks?  Not the real deal.  Those are apparently rigged.  These chopsticks were heavy, slippery and took considerable skill.  All the times I had successfully (and smugly, sigh) eaten with chopsticks now
meant nothing.  I started to be very thankful that I was dining alone because the seat across me was soon splattered with sauce from my poor chopstick handling.  I did my best.  When I thought no one was looking I just stabbed my deep-fried yams and ate them lollipop style.

Being noon-time the restaurant was filling up.  A couple came in, young and giggly.  The girl tossed her hair and smiled an awful lot, the boy was wearing what he considered a flattering bicep-showing shirt and paid an awful lot of attention to his girl.  Aw, a first date maybe?  Newly in love?  They sat down, stared deep into each other's eyes and promptly took out their phones to text friends who were not there.  Well.  So that's how people date in these modern times.  I hope they were texting each other.

So I ate the sticky rice.  I ate the soup.  I enjoyed the yams and zucchini.  I finished the raw tuna.  I polished off the sushi.  

The tea gave me palpitations, but I'm sure my solitary dining experience was more heartfelt than the texting couple.  

At least we'll always have green tea.

1 comment:

Abigail said...

hilarious!! You are such a gifted writer! I felt like I was in the corner of the room, watching...but not in a creepy way.