The turkey arrived in the mail

Saiki (Honjo) hills: Tea and satsuma mikan

I really appreciate how easy it is to eat mostly local food while living here in ruralish Japan. Our rice, vegies, tofu, fruit, and fish are all locally produced. Tonight we had Oita chicken, local oysters, and spinach, cabbage and broccoli all from area farms. We can also get soy sauce, cooking oil and miso from local producers. I have planted some things that are hard to find such as cilantro, basil, Thai basil, and beets, and plan to grow more once I have more time. However many of my cravings are often only available from very-far-away regions. I buy frozen blueberries from New Zealand (for some reason all frozen food is regularly 50% off and I keep a steady supply in the freezer here), cheese also from New Zealand, olive oil and organic tomato sauces from Europe, coffee from the States and  I’ve got a stash of  goodies(dried fruit, nuts) from Trader Joe’s. Many people have recommended Costco to me, but I don’t like to buy in such great quantities and it’s too far of a drive. We get a few items such as yoghurt through a delivery service (Green Coop), but the prices are high and the quality is mediocre.

Persimmons drying

With Thanksgiving coming, I decided to spend some time looking for other sources of hard-impossible-to-find-in-Oita food. I discovered three sites that look promising. Warabe Mura located in Gifu prefecture offers a wide variety of organic and natural foods mostly produced in Japan, but also some imported products. The Foreign Buyers’ Club is mail order business that specializes in imported products from the US. Most of their offerings are processed foods you’d typically find in the supermarket, but they also carry organic foods (listed under special diet) such as dried beans. While looking for a source for phyllo, I came across The Meat Guy, which offers all kinds of meats, including alligator. We don’t eat meat much, but after looking at the available foods I decided to order a turkey for Thanksgiving (I also ordered guacamole and cranberry sauce). The turkey is 3.4 kg and will fit in our small oven. When it arrived the label says that it is from Peru and is Halal certified. I am really excited to have a Thanksgiving dinner, and plan to make dressing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin(kabocha) pie. I am looking for brussel sprouts in our market- I know I’ve seen them here before. I have to work on Thursday and Friday, so we’ll have the dinner this weekend.

It has been awhile since I’ve written..lots going on and writing sometimes seems like a burden. I know I’ve written this before, but I think I need to work on writing more frequent, short posts. I’ll keep this one short and try to post again within a week.

Thanks everyone for your concern for my mother-in-law. She is doing much better and was discharged after only a week. She celebrated her 81st birthday last week. I continue to be annoyed with her attempts to be

Stone Lantern at the local Shinto Shrine

helpful- it reminds me of how young children always want to help with “grown-up” work and how everything takes twice as long with their help. It was more fun doing things with the kids….and less irritating when a dish broke or when I came across a hidden treasure.

People here often ask me what is different between life in the US and in Japan. I wish I could answer in a few words, but I never know where to begin. It is so difficult to  generalize and it often seems that people are not interested in a conversation, but rather they want a list of things. “You’re right, most Americans don’t eat miso soup for breakfast. But some Americans occasionally eat miso soup.” “Yes, many people in the US own guns, but I didn’t and most of the people I know don’t have guns.” I think the biggest difference I experience here is the lack of ethnic diversity and differing perspectives in the workplace and schools. I am sure that there is more diversity in large cities such as Tokyo, and I think I might feel the same if I lived in a more provincial region of the US. This will  be a longer blog post someday

However, I do find pleasure discovering things that can be included on the things-in-Japan-that-are-different-than-in-the-US list. One recent discovery was the different Google logos. A couple

Isamu Noguchi-inspired Google logo

of weeks ago, I noticed this logo on the Japanese Google site, honoring Isamu Noguchi. I checked into what logos have been used on the Google Japan site and found that there have been logos to honor Doraemon, authors such as Edogawa Rampo and Miyazawa Kenji, and for commerating holidays and celebrations such as Tsukimi. The Google Logo Museum site lists all the logos from around the world.

Wanted to write more about persimmons, Miyazaki, food, my favorite Japan blogs, library/librarian musings, visit from American tour group….but will try to get to one of those topics within a week. What do you want to read about?


8 thoughts on “The turkey arrived in the mail

  1. Monique November 25, 2009 / 2:23 pm

    I enjoy reading your posts, Kate. I learn something new with each one. I love the idea of drying persimmons by hanging them on strings; they look beautiful. And is that a little Santa in the lantern??

    • katezawa November 25, 2009 / 9:57 pm

      Yes, a Santa!?!..I was with a friend and she pointed it out…the juxtaposition of old and new, east and west, traditional and trendy, elegance and tack is often amusing.

  2. Kate November 26, 2009 / 7:52 am

    Every post is such a treat, but I can never hear too much about the food. I made a persimmon bundt cake for our Thanksgiving breakfast tomorrow–what happens with the dried ones?

    • katezawa November 26, 2009 / 9:30 am

      We use the astringent variety to dry and eat them as snacks, you can also use in baking..similar to figs, but much sweeter.

  3. Judy November 26, 2009 / 4:46 pm

    I really like to read about the food, too.
    Ya know, I could have sent you a turkey in the mail if you had just asked! Yumm, Washington grown turkeys have gotta be better than Preuvian.
    We’ll be talking about you guys at the Thanksgiving table tonight-miss you.

  4. Sara J November 27, 2009 / 5:35 pm

    I love reading your blog, Kate. It’s such a generous sharing of life and details and thoughts. And because I love reading about food – grew up reading MFK Fisher in New Yorker and Julie Child – all your observations and meditations are a delight and food for thought. And I love your comments on the countryside and weather and seasons, on customs — who knew the Google had different logos in different countries – Duh, of course I should have figured that out, – Thanks so much for opening my eyes to a new idea / art form / visual rhetoric to explore. And I love your photos that really bring your experience there to life for readers. For me, just keep doing everything. I know I don’t comment often – and if you like having lots of comments, then I will certainly comment more. It is nice to know that someone out there is reading. I feel bad about not keeping up my own blog in the past half-year and I hope that work will stabilize to the point where I actually do have a few minutes to think. Maybe if I had a digital camera I could post more images and that would inspire me to write some. Anyway, happy thanksgiving (hope that turkey turned out well) and thank you for your blog and your friendship, and may I say that we really miss having you here at OSU!!!

    • katezawa November 30, 2009 / 11:39 am

      Great to hear from you Sara, and I am reminded to add your blog to my feeds. I wasn’t really fishing for comments, but because I am often wondering what to write about, I thought that maybe folks who read my blog might have some ideas or questions. I will definitely continue to write about food, it’s easy because it seems that half of all conversations I have here are about food. No need to comment more, I now know to include a question when I need a little feedback. We had a great Thanksgiving…the turkey turned out great! Enjoy the rest of the fall…I love reading your fb updates about fruit and the outdoors in Oregon, it’s waht I miss most! I often wonder how you have so much energy.

  5. Sara Jameson November 30, 2009 / 4:10 pm

    Now I realize that I have to update my blog – really it has languished for months. I just don’t have any time to think! Thank goodness for FB or I wouldn’t be writing anything at all. What fruits grow in Japan other than persimmons and plums? Are fuji apples native to Japan? This time of year I so crave blueberries that I spend big bucks for the imported from Argentina, but now the Florida berries are in, not as good as Oregon’s of course, but still way better than frozen. Today we have the winter FOG!

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