Several lists – an accidental advertisement of sorts, created for my comfort during an idle shift at work:
WESTERN FOODS I MISS AND CAN’T GET HERE
- Gray’s Papaya Hot Dogs
- Claussen Dill Pickles
- Yonah Shimmel’s Knishes
- Gabila Knishes
- Dojo’s carrot and tahini salad dressing
- Canada Dry Mandarin-flavored seltzer
- Oreo cookie milkshakes
- Chef Boyardee Beefaroni
- Stove Top Stuffing
- Kraft Mac and Cheese
- Hamburger Helper
- Pillsbury Yellow Cake Mix plus Pillsbury Chocolate Frosting
- Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Crumbs’ Buttercream Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
- General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Post Fruity Pebbles
- General Mills Kix
- Cozy Diner Fried Egg Sandwiches on a Toasted Bagel
- Buffalo Wings
- Cozy Diner Manhattan Clam Chowder
- Au Bon Pain Blueberry Muffins
- Naked Juice
- Silk Vanilla Soy Milk
- Tropicana Grovestand Orange Juice
- Welch’s White Grape Peach Juice
- Sal’s Pizza from Avenue A and 7th
- Pepe Rosso (on Thompson, off Houston)
JAPANESE FOODS I’VE BECOME DEPENDENT ON:
- Aquarius Vitamin Water
- Soba Meshi from any friendly neighborhood conbini ((a rice patty interspersed with soba noodles, bits of grilled chicken and flavored with saffron – YES!!!)
- Matsuya Curry (mildly obsessed with this)
- CocoIchi Curry (completely obsessed with this, I must have a plate each time I teach near a location)
- 99 yen packets of curry from the 99 yen store, to be eaten with 99 yen packets of cooked rice
- curry made by friends like Carnitas (HOLLA!!!)
- any curry
- Maguro Don from the fast food place near my apartment – nothing says lovin’ like raw tuna, soy sauce, wasabi and rice in a bowl.
- guacamole and enchiladas from El Bigote’s Mexican restaurant in Kokoromura
- sushi from the 120 yen-a-plate kaiten sushi place near me
- Morinaga wafer and chocolate ice cream bars
- Calbee Jagari Potato Sticks – they come in a paper cup and are magically crunchlicious
- Calbee Salt and Pepper Taste Potato Chips
- Calbee Hot Taste Potato Chips
- Ramen from anywhere, any time – covered in savory pork slices and bamboo
- tasty yakitori from the friendly yakitori place in my neighborhood where Bob, Sean and I have gone together so often that the staff automatically brings out 3 beers if they see just one of us enter.
- Takoyaki – translated to “octopus balls” in guide books. Tee hee!
JAPANESE FOODS I WAS ONCE DEPENDENT ON BUT ATE TOO MUCH OF AND CANNOT SMELL OR LOOK AT EVER AGAIN:
- Negitoro onigiri; once a “safe” option in the conbiniento stoa rice ball arena (i.e., a rice ball filling that had nothing to do with mayonnaise, fish eggs or fermented soybeans) I stared at the innocent onigiri in my lap last week and, suddenly disgusted by the strangely pungent aroma piercing my nostrils, found myself absolutely unable to bring the once-beloved rice-and-raw-tuna-filled product to my lips. I am officially negitoro-d out which is a shame because onigiri are an extremely quick and cheap lunch or snack option.
JAPANESE FOODS I JUST CAN’T GET INTO:
- Okonomiyaki – a kind of savory pancake that originated in the Osaka area but has permeated all parts of Japan, including Abeno. Its main ingredients are flour, eggs, shredded cabbage and any kind of meat you can picture (often pork or squid) … it is fried with oil on a skillet-surface stove and after it is cooked, it is covered in okonomiyaki sauce (kind of like Worcestershire sauce), sprinkled with seaweed and fish flakes and then … drizzled with mayonnaise. I absolutely hate mayonnaise. Even requesting this dish without mayonnaise makes me nervous, as the different orders of okonomiyaki are often cooked on the same grill. It’s too bad. Okonomiyaki looks quite nice and is beloved by nearly all who try it but when at an okonomiyaki place with my ravenous and delighted friends, I stick to the yaki soba. So, yeah, in short – fish flakes and seaweed are okay in my book but keep that mayonnaise as far away as possible.
- Oden – vegetables like radish and such stewed in a light dashi (fish, soy) broth. I like radish and fish fine but cannot get over the repulsive smell and sight of these yellowed elements stewing in metal vats for hours and hours at any conbini.
- Red bean paste – this gooey, chocolate-colored semi-sweet paste is harmless; I don’t even hate it. If it were served to me at a function I could certainly get it down. I just find myself unable to respond to it with enthusiasm and will avoid what appear to be lovely pastries at bakeries because in Japan, foodstuffs very often come with surprise fillings and after 5 months here, I know all too well that that surprise filling will probably be red bean paste. Or some kind of fish product.
The moral of this story is that my addiction to high-fat, high sodium, high-cholesterol food (and my dread of mayonnaise) has followed me across the Pacific. Ignore the moral, however – pay attention instead to the subliminal messages woven into the “WESTERN FOODS I MISS” list. Contact me discreetly for address details and nobody – nobody – will get hurt.