School Lunch in Japan for Sept 10-28
Things have been interesting around here for the last few weeks. My novel is out, we got hit with typhoon 1216 and 1217 and there was a sports festival thrown in. Why does any of this matter in a School Lunch post? Well in Japan, or at least on my island, all of this tends to mess with 1. my ability to get a school lunch, 2. My ability to remember to take pictures of them, and 3. My ability to actually create a post with no internet. To top it all off, I jumped on a plane to Kitadaito for their yearly festival. But as promised, here are the school lunches I was able to catch for the days between September 10-28. Enjoy!
Milk, chahan, chinese dumplings, chingensai soup
This lunch is a common Okinawan meal with Okinawan fried rice (chahan), dumplings and soup. The meal is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, which is a distinctive feature of Okinawan food. Though heavily influenced, it’s still far enough away from traditional Chinese food to rate 4 bowls of rice on the Japan scale. This version of chahan had basic mixed vegetables, egg and a bit of pork.
Thursday September 13
Milk, Neapolitan spaghetti, sautéed vegetables, acerola jelly
This meal is popular in Japanese school lunches as it is easy to serve in quantity. The noodles and sauce are pre-mixed together and sided with a saute of green beans, can tuna, and other vegetables. For dessert a jelly with acerola and milk.
Friday September 14
Milk, millet rice, baked fish, vegetable chanpuru, winter melon (tougan) soup
Today’s lunch is right back up to traditional Japanese fare. Basic white rice is mixed with awa (millet) for more diverse vitamins and minerals. The fish is a bit of mackerel in a soy based sauce. On the side is an Okinawan stir fry of vegetables (chanpuru). The soup is made of various vegetables including winter melon, a large green fruit that has the same consistency of daikon.
Wednesday September 19
White rice topped with black seseme, salmon, pickled daikon, tofu chanpuru, egg, hamburger, fried fish, vegetable
This meal isn’t a school lunch. Due to one of the typhoons we’ve had this year we ended up working on a day we hadn’t planned to, thus students had to bring their own lunches, and teachers went and bought bentos, Japanese boxed lunches. The main feature of bento as you can see above is variety. Though they aren’t always the healthiest, they generally provide small tastes of a variety of items. This bento isn’t the best I’ve had, but it was definitely edible.
Thursday September 20
Milk, purple shiso rice (yukari rice), teriyaki chicken, stir fry vegetables, egg drop soup
The rice is flavored with pickled shiso, a leaf that adds a bit of a sour bite. The chicken is your typical bit of meat with teriyaki (which actually translates to grilled bird) sauce. The vegetables are the largest part of this dish. They are a simple stir fry. On the side was an egg drop soup with more vegetables thrown in.
Wednesday September 26
Milk, bread, cheese omelette, vegetable saute, minestrone soup
The only thing keeping this meal from a one was the vegetable saute and the mix of such different items in the same meal. Alone, each item was delicious, but at first glance don’t seem to lend themselves to a single meal. I ended up using the bread as a holder for the vegetable saute (which included meat in the form of sausage) and also to absorb some of the soup. All in all a delicious, but not very Japanese school lunch.
Thursday September 27
Milk, Okinawan Soba, marinated vegetables, kyoho grapes
This meal featured a popular Okinawan dish of noodles in broth with pork belly and fish cakes. In the broth was also green onion. The side dish was a marinade of chingensai, bean sprouts, and other vegetables. For desert were two large grapes.
Thanks for waiting! This post was a tough one, with 2 typhoons, a power outage, a sports day, and a trip. There were more lunches, but this is pretty representative. We’ll have one more week of school lunches before I take off to the states for the official release party for Samurai Awakening. Thanks for reading!