Tag Archives: Japan

Foreign foods and how to cope

I think I have mentioned before in this blog that I am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I am not really sure why …. I was raised in England so got very used to things like steak and kidney pie – and I know a lot of people just turn green at the thought of eating kidneys. Not to mention black pudding ….. (gosh I love that but I can’t believe it is basically a blood sausage – yuk – wish I didn’t know that).

So next week I am off to Japan. Yes – I know – I have a crappy job but someone has to do it 🙂

I have been looking through the food choices in Japan. Now some people just love Japanese food….. the jury is still out for me. I looked up the top ten foods to each in Japan – these are the top two favourites

Sushi

Sushi is, without doubt, one of the most famous foods to come from Japan. A dish that was born in ancient times, sushi originated from the process of preserving fish in fermented rice. Today it’s made with vinegared rice and fresh fish, presented in a number of ways and shapes.A variety of sushi© George Alexander Ishida Newman / Flickr

A variety of sushi

Sashimi

Centuries before Japanese people were eating sushi, they first enjoyed raw fish without the rice. While the name “sashimi” refers to any thinly sliced raw food, including raw beef (gyuu-sashi), chicken (tori-zashi), and even horse (basashi), fish and seafood are the most popular varieties.Assorted sashimi© electricnude / Flickr

Assorted sashimi

Sorry – but I can’t do either of those …..

but maybe I could……… I quite like smoked salmon with cream cheese…..

Tempuru looks quite nice – maybe a bit fattening but definitely yummy so I can add that to my list. Then I saw that grilled chicken on a skewer is popular. That’s great …. until I read ….

Yakitori is a dish of bite-sized cuts of chicken grilled on a skewer. It makes use of every part of the chicken — including heart, liver, and even chicken comb — to avoid wastefulness, an important element of Japanese food culture.

Mmmm. what even is a chicken comb –

Oh…. I see. Shame! Not sure why I feel bad for the chicken. I do love chicken wings and chicken livers. Damn it. I think I am going to have to go vegetarian.

Now the problem for vegetarians in Japan is that many of the dishes are made with a fish stock base – so best to ask for miso which is a base made from soybeans. I have read this is no problem in larger cities and the veggies there are amazing. But I can’t really go veggie while in Japan because I might get the chance to taste some Kobe beef which is said to be amazing. (OK OK it’s not Alberta Beef I know….)

Kobe beef is renowned for its superior flavor, tenderness and high amount of intramuscular fat, giving the meat a marbled appearance. It is often cited as being healthier than commercial beef because of its high concentration of monounsaturated fats and omega-3s.

So all in all it is going to be an interesting trip. Sushi, sashimi, miso and a new era for the new emperor – The Reiwa Era. I think people will still be celebrating when we get there so I will have to learn how to say Happy New Era in Japanese – and I promise to try the sashimi and just pretend I am in Scotland having smoked salmon – och aye the noo!

Would you like fries with that?

Trying to decide which country will be the cheapest for your next vacation?  Maybe you should consult the Big Mac Index – the latest evaluation having just been released.

bigmac meme

Basically the Big Mac index is a comparison of what it would cost to buy a Big Mac (if it was available) in different countries around the world using the price of a Big Mac in the United States and then comparing what the price would be in other countries.  It gives a pretty good idea of where in the world you could go to and where your dollar would stretch further – or where it would be more expensive.  Pretty nifty test.  Here are the latest figures as at 12th July.

big mac index

So according to this South Africa would be a really good place to go on holiday – it is cheap, cheap, cheap to eat out (and drink out – after all it is the land of the vineyard).  We know this particularly from the sticker shock when South African friends and family come to visit.  Consider – they pay about $1.50 to $2.00 (Cdn $) for a pint of beer.

Britain and the whole Euro area look pretty good too and naturally these numbers are aggregates so some places in Europe will be much cheaper than others.  Friends who have chosen to winter in Spain rather than Phoenix come home with tales of amazingly cheap fresh vegetables and bottles of wine for just 4 Euro.  This is interesting because it also reflects where people are travelling and despite recent terrorist attacks in Europe tourism there still remains strong, with the exception of poor France where bookings are down.  That’s a shame as it is one of my favourite places to visit and river cruises offering Southern France and Bordeaux are just such a win at the moment.

Surprises on the list were Japan and Russia.  I have always seen Japan as a very expensive country to visit as real estate is at a premium and hotel prices are high but perhaps once you are there eating out or shopping is better and cheaper than in the States.

And Russia is hopping!  River cruises and tours regularly sell out to this fascinating country.  Maybe the revived interest is due to the on again off again Trump Putin romance being front and centre in the news.  It has certainly given the country lots of exposure and seeing reporters filing their newscast with the beautiful and exotic Red Square in the background can certainly do no harm.
red square

The full article makes for interesting reading https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21725034-dollar-has-slipped-over-past-six-months-still-looks-dear-big-mac

My advice?  Go travel – eat local – avoid the Big Mac and if you are looking at a country where the cost of living and/or eating out is expensive then go as all inclusive as you can such as a river cruise with tours, meals, wine and beer included.  It will seem more expensive at first glance but once you secure your price in Canadian dollars and take advantage of those early booking offers you will end up on the winning side!