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First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #11

When I went to Japan, I had very little understanding of the culture into which I was stepping.  I didn’t know what to expect in most instances.  One thing I thought I would understand without too much problem was the food.  I knew I loved sushi.  What more could I need to know?  Well, as it happens… a lot!

For instance… in Japan there are often displays of the kind of food prepared in a given restaurant.  You look at them and choose and then place your order.  Well, my first experience of this was rather embarrassing.  I thought the display was the food from which I should select… yes, some of the fake food looks THAT real.  So, I picked up the display and brought it along to where I thought I should pay for it.  There was much confusion – especially complicated by the fact that I spoke very little and understood probably less Japanese at the time of this incident.  Thankfully, when I went to Japan the Japanese were (still are from all I understand) so super polite that they would not make fun of me or laugh in my face as an American employee in the same situation would more than likely do.  I rarely blush.  But I think I must’ve been quite pink in the cheeks over that one!  I sure felt flushed!

Another difference that was quite fun is the sushi bars.  You think you know sushi bars, huh?  Have you BEEN to Japan?  Okay, I hear a no.  Well, then, my friend, you have NO clue.  Not all, I’m sure, but perhaps most of the sushi bars in Japan are far cooler than anything your experience can convey.  Convey.  Conveyor.  Conveyor belt.  Can you imagine little plates of sushi moving along a little conveyor belt either #1 from the kitchen, through a little plastic flap door, around your table, and back through another door into the kitchen or #2 on a conveyor belt circling endlessly around the sushi chef(s)?  Can you imagine it?  Well, if you can not, let me know and I’ll try to more adequately describe it for you!  It was awesome!  One thing about these sushi bars is that the sushi itself is priced based on what kind of plate it is sitting on.  If you’re not familiar with the pricing… well, it can get pretty steep pretty fast.  And they do have drinks on some of these conveyor belts… and those are stupid expensive.  And yes, it is upsetting and embarrassing to find out how much more expensive after you’ve selected one only to find out you really didn’t have permission to do that… but wasn’t told so from the outset.  *sigh* One of the problems of passive aggressive communication practices… and that’s basically almost all Japanese.

I’ve already mentioned the Korean BBQ restaurant.  That was super cool.  I sure would love to find something like that around these parts.  Highly unlikely, though, I’m sure… given that the nearest town to me is only of medium size… definitely not a megopolis or anything like that.

The other coolness that I especially loved was the Chinese restaurant my Host Family took me out to with some friends.  I definitely had the STRONG feeling of being their pet on display on that outing.  None-the-less, it was a great restaurant experience.  So, it was a Chinese place.  Our party had a room to itself.  Cool, I’m thinking.  There were two main tables.  I was put at the children’s table, which I’m sure was intended as a mean thing, but though I could feel that, I preferred to be among the younger folks.  In the middle of each table was a ginormous lazy susan.  Food was places on the lazy susans and we all selected food from the lazy susans to put on our own little plates and then eat.  It was very cool.  And though I do not remember any of the food items specifically, I did enjoy it quite a lot.  And the effort of the youth to include me in conversation and try to get to know me was quite nice, too… definitely experience far more of that among them than the adults among whom I “should’ve” been seated.  Boy, I’m glad I was insulted by being seated among the youth!  J

The final note about food is one that I’m pretty sure translates across all cultures.  I’m not absolutely certain on this, but I’m pretty sure given the natures of those involved are pretty static across cultures.  I reference the way that my Okaasan (Host Mother) spent hours preparing various foods so that my Otousan (Host Father) could enjoy the glory of preparing them at the table.  This was not a daily practice, but, rather, what happened for those meals that, apparently, my Otousan enjoyed fixing for the family.  All praise was directed toward the father even though all he did was nicely put the work together and then serve it.  Hmmmm…  Sound familiar?  This is not the primary mode of food preparation in my home, as my husband is a Chef… but there are times and it does annoy.  A common experience of this I can immediately think of is the “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner in many American homes.  My Host Mother seemed fine with it, though I think she did appreciate that I thanked her for preparing all the items used in dinner.

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