|Posh shop selling replica food|
Can you imagine a diet composed mainly of fish and rice with no chocolate, no dairy, no red wine and no bread? Neither could I but three weeks in Japan showed me that not only was it possible but I felt a load healthier, more energetic and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were lucky that quite a few of our meals were sumptuous traditional feasts at the ryokans we stayed at which I will blog about later but the quality and range of street and market food was quite fantastic too and with the opportunity of free tastings almost everywhere - OldmaSock would have been in her element! The only problem in cafés and restaurant was choosing from extensive menus in Japanese BUT there is a way around this - the ubiquitous plastic food replicas!
Most cafés and cheaper food establishments will have a display case outside where you can point out the meal you want!
Unfortunately some of them don't look so appetizing close up!
Whole rows of shops dedicated to selling snacks of different sorts of freshly made biscuits
and various forms of rice crackers - many of which sounded nicer than they tasted.
Our favourite outdoor market was in the lovely town of Takeyama in the Japanese Alps.
Market stalls ran along the side of the river selling local fresh vegetables, home-made pickles and spices. The lady below is mixing spices according to customers requirements these include hemp seeds, dried mandarin orange peel, black sesame seeds and Japanese sancho pepper..
You can never have too much fish-on-a-stick
You could sample all these jars of goodies - so we did and came away with some fabulous wasabi coated nuts, some cranberry coloured things of unknown origin which were yummy and some mixed nuts with what turned out to be dried fishy bits in with them which were yuck and tasted like some cat treats I once accidentally ate!
Didn't really understand what this was supposed to be - possibly marshmallow
but as usual we tried one anyway and whatever it was it was rather good...
the only grumpy Japanese person we met in three weeks was Mrs. Dumplings - after we'd been stood around salivating for a while she informed us they wouldn't be ready for half and hour! We eventually tried some of these in Kyoto and whilst I thought they were no great shakes the Bedsock felt they could become quite addictive..
this guy was cutting his roll so fast that a crowd gathered in the expectation he would slice off a finger..
Takeyama has streets of old merchant's houses some of which now house sake breweries. We didn't have time for the brewery tours but I sampled a fridge full of sakes all of which were quite different to each other and for the most part very good - except for the one that was mixed with yoghurt (a Japanese version of Bailey's?) which tasted like rancid milk vomit.
Wherever there was a queue of people we knew fab food would be at the end of it and one of the best was a piece of sushi with kobe beef on top that was to die for! No photo as we wolfed it down too quickly.
We move on to Kyoto where Nishiki food market
was enough to make the Bedsock cry with frustration that the packed pickles wouldn't make the journey home..
but he did buy himself an expensive knife to cheer himself up
and they inscribed his name on it (at least they said it was his name)!!!
You can't have too much octopus
particularly when it is on a stick!
Barrels of beautiful veg we watched them pack in some paste preserve
We came home having cast off our chocolate and cheese addictions and desiring only sake and plum wine. This hasn't lasted, although we do now have a craving for pickles and raw fish that is never going to be satisfied.