Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My First Trip to Japan

My parents are from South Korea. So, while growing up, I have come in contact with many traditional and non-traditional Korean food. It is probably due to my parent's influence that I have always been obsessed with East Asia food, specifically Korean and Japanese food. I visit South Korea on multiple occasions because of my relatives; however, I never had the chance to visit Japan. But, Lucky Me! This summer, I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Japan for the first time. During my ten day journey, I spent around five days in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture and the other five days in Fukui, Fukui Prefecture. Both are located west of Tokyo and face the Sea of Japan.

Because of their close association with the Sea of Japan, these areas are well-known for their unique seafood dishes. In the morning, I was always served with rice, soup, and fish. Based on my observation, fish was common, even necessary, to the Japanese diet just like rice was necessary to them. I especially remember entering into a "bento" (single, take-out meal) restaurant. More than half of the bento consisted of seafood that I have never seen before in my life. Some of the seafood were prepared raw (e.g. sashimi), some were battered and fried (e.g. tempura), and the rest were marinated and grilled. It was amazing to see many different ways seafood was prepared all in one, large box. 

It is true that Japanese people enjoy their seafood as much as they enjoy their rice. However, they also enjoy meat! One of the ways that Japanese people eat meat is by boiling it. While in Fukui Prefecture, I had the opportunity to taste a gourmet "suki-yaki." In a suki-yaki (or sometimes called "hot pot" in English"), you place the meat and other vegetables in boiling water, creating a type of soup dish. The suki-yaki restaurant I visited was well-known in the region for their high-quality of meat, which is essential in creating a good suki-yaki broth.

First, in the boiling water, you put in the thinly-sliced beef. While the meat creates a flavorful broth, you then put the vegetables. One thing to note: in a suki-yaki, there are only few slices of beef. Although the beef is one of the most important ingredient of the dish, the broth of the beef is also as important as the beef itself. So, the dish is designed for one to enjoy the vegetables and the broth, rather than only the meat.

Next time you go to Japan, I recommend you to stop by West Japan. Their unique location and resources have created a fascinating food culture. You'll enjoy every last dish of it!

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