School Lunch August 27-31

School is back, and with it we return to our weekly review of lunches in Okinawan Schools.    This week was cut a bit short by Typhoon 1215 and the Kyubon holidays, but we did have two days of school.

Tuesday August 28

Milk, barley rice, baked fish fillet, vegetable stir fry, clear soup with root vegetables.

Today’s meal is not the one planned for the day.  Although the typhoon was well past by Tuesday, the strong winds created high waves that prevented the ferries from traveling to our islands for several days.  This weeks meals, then are a good idea of what islanders eat when the pantry is low.  The staple rice is something easily stockpiled and cooked with nearly any kind of heat source.  The fish portions were small but tasty.  Local vegetables tossed with soy and dashi formed an easy side and a soup of long-lasting root vegetables rounded out the meal.  It won’t win any awards on Top Chef, but it sure beat instant ramen.

Wednesday August 29

Milk, barley rice, teriyaki chicken, vegetable stir fry, mozuku soup

Like the previous meal, this meal was traditional and full of locally sourced or well-preserved food.  The mozuku is a type of stringy seaweed cultivated locally that tastes good and is an extra source of nutrition.  The stir fry was local summer vegetables augmented by canned corn and processed canned meat.  The chicken is was a bit of a surprise, but I think it was likely frozen and available well ahead of the storm.

Thursday August 30

White rice, potato croquet with sauce, fried chicken with mayo, meat croquet, daikon pickles, pickled chingensai, and stir fried carrot with egg

You might notice this isn’t on a normal orange tray.  This isn’t a school lunch.  Since Wednesday is the start of Okinawan Obon, the students are off of school and I worked at the Board of Education instead.  While I could have made a lunch, I went to the local convenience store instead and picked up a Japanese boxed lunch, aka a bento.  Again since the boats just started up again, choices are slim.  This one was tasty, if a bit dominated by fried food.  All the items rested on a bed of rice. The only reason this meal didn’t get a solid 1 bowl of rice is the fact that there was a mayo based sauce on the chicken, the traditional carrot stir fry was stuck in, and of course the green garnish was made of plastic.

Which would you prefer, school lunch or conbini bento?