Monthly Archives: December 2008

Chocolate mine

I was on Wikipedia looking for information on Ferrero Rocher (Ailin was wondering if it was truly a foreign product) when I discovered another example of wiki-vandalism. The page confidently asserted that the chocolates are mined at a renewable rate in Italy.

It is a little known fact that the mines ‘Rocher’ are extracted from tend to regrow the removed spheres at a constant rate. Ferrero SpA discovered this rate in the mid 1960’s and can now mine the small cholocate candy in a renewable way. Various other Rocher mines have been discovered outside Italy but have since been deemed unnecesary and hazardous to the longterm perpetuation.

Sadly, the vigilant editors of Wikipedia seem to have picked up on that paragraph and have since removed it. Still, that’s pretty darned funny!

(Incidentally, Ferrero SpA turns out to be indeed an Italian company, and is in fact responsible for Nutella, Kinder Bueno/Surprise, and even tic tacs!)


Back from Japan

So I’m home now. Have been back for some days already, actually, but only just started feeling like I needed to update the blog.

I really didn’t do very much this trip, although this time I did follow Ailin to her shougakkou (elementary/primary school) as Santa Claus. Little Japanese kids are actually really cute – especially when decked in their little chef outfits when serving kyushoku (school lunch). I had lunch with this bunch of rascals (ninensei, or second years, I think), and though I had absolutely no clue what they were saying (aside from trying to teach me the ichi-ni-sans of Japanese counting), it was relatively enjoyable. Until the whole class started swarming me for presents, anyway. That was scary. And funny. All at the same time!

While doing some browsing in the supermarkets I came across a section of gift meats for the festive season. This consisted nicely packaged meats. What a delightful concept! Imagine receiving a gift box of six chunks of beef, turkey, ham, etc. ready for roasting. I suppose maybe the giver might be hinting for you to host a dinner party. Not something you’ll find in Singapore (I think). I don’t remember ever seeing stuff like that in the UK either…

It might well be the last time I’m travelling while having that funky KrisFlyer Elite Gold status, and though it seems I’ll never be getting any free upgrades on these super-full flights between Singapore and Tokyo, I’ve been making good use of the airport lounges. I went to check out United Airlines’ lounge. It was very big, and had these super-cool automated beer machines, but all in all I liked ANA’s lounge better. We eventually relocated to ANA’s lounge, where Ailin pointed out something that I didn’t notice – the fishcake in their udon had ANA’s logo stamped onto it. Funny stuff.

Fusing food

It seems that a staggering majority of posts made while in Japan have to do with eating or food. I guess that’s not all too surprising, given that eating’s mainly what I’m doing these days, anyway.

I’m of the opinion that fusion food wasn’t born out of any great leaps of creativity, but instead out of necessity or convenience. Somehow I find it easy to imagine a foreigner out there with a packet of udon that was expiring pretty soon and deciding to eat it with leftover Thai red curry from the previous night’s dinner – possibly because that’s exactly what happened to me earlier today. Happily it resulted in a pretty tasty meal. I’m quite sure that curry udon’s been done before (and is probably rather common in Singapore), but I’ve never had it before and can now confirm that it’s actually quite good.

Last Sunday I followed Ailin up to Oyama (in a neighbouring prefecture) since she was doing her JLPT there, though I didn’t do very much aside from exploring some malls and checking out the eating options. I had myself some takoyaki (perhaps better known among Singaporeans as ‘Tako Pachi’, possibly the first chain to make it popular back home), which they sell in boxes of 6 or 8 – no snack-sized option of 3, which I’m more used to.

There were actually many varieties and I don’t know exactly what it was that I’d ordered, but it had octopus, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise and fish flakes, and that’s good enough for me! Funnily enough (or painfully, as it was at the time), I decided to pop one into my mouth without waiting for it to cool sufficiently – a mistake I’d committed about 7 years ago. Looks like I’m a slow learner, sometimes.

Back in Japan

So I’m back in Japan. It’s been a nice mix of busyness and slackness, often going out in the past few days to meet Ailin’s friends (whom I’ve kinda gotten to know after all the repeated visits). Anyway, while looking through some pictures I’d snapped on my phone, I discovered this little gem.

I know Japanese toilets are kinda infamous, and I’ve already seen them billions of times really, but somehow I found these tourist-friendly instructions in Narita Airport really amusing. I guess the line ‘equipment to cleansing the buttocks with warm water’ just really set me off, somehow.

Today I took a walk to Yaoko, the nearest supermarket (I think) to Ailin’s place. I recorded the route using GPS on my phone (ohwhatfun!), so you can take a look and try to figure out where exactly in Japan I am, if you were curious.

I’ve been hoping to cook for myself while in Japan (since I don’t usually do it at home anymore, I actually kinda miss it), but I need to stock up on groceries first. You’d have thought that was the motivation behind the supermarket trip, but since I’m too lazy to bring home bags of groceries without a car, it was really just to get some lunch.

The supermarket tonkatsu might seem a little pricey at about S$5, but considering that the quality’s better than in some (lower-end) restaurants in Singapore, I think it’s a pretty good deal. Topped off with some home-cooked rice, an orange, and milk tea, it made a pretty satisfying (if somewhat pricey) meal.