Friday, June 10, 2011

The Grass is always Tastier...

A decade ago, on a visit to the States from my home in rural Japan, I entered for the first time that yuppie food mecca of Whole Foods. I'd been struggling for years as a vegetarian in a country that had forgotten that that had been its traditional diet for centuries. After WWII, when the nation was occupied by an army of big-bodied meat eaters, animal parts were seen as a status symbol, a way of elevating you above your poor, malnourished, millet-eating neighbor. The custom stuck and by the '90s, finding a restaurant meal sans meat was an exercise in developing the purest Zen-like patience. Pork oil in the ramen. Beef stock in the soups. The real whack of the keisaku was settling yet again on a salad, only to find bacon in the dressing. I eventually found Tengu Foods in Saitama, and mail order became a monthly exercise, though admittedly, this wasn't the most eco-friendly, sustainable solution. Thus, entering Whole Foods was an epiphany. In the States, I could eat in a way that was healthy for both myself and the planet. I toyed with the idea of returning to America within the year.

Life is a fickle percussionist, and I didn't get back here until a year ago. And now, I can barely stand Whole Foods, the extremities of its prices nearly equaling that of the pretension. Meanwhile, I've been visiting the blogs of a handful of expats who've done an I-turn into the Japanese countryside. Many have recipes included. So here I sit, mouth watering over photos of homegrown veggies, mulling a possible return to that great supermarket without walls...

On the turntable: Everything but the Girl, "Baby, The Stars Shine Bright"
On the nighttable: Yoshida Kiju, "Ozu's Anti-Cinema"
On the reeltable: "Food, Inc."

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