Haiku reflections on Japan

Noodles and positive pan-asian relations

Vermicilli, a

light noodle essential to

a refreshing soup.

But I wonder can you also throw vermicilli noodles in with a stirfry or are they too delicate?  I guess you can.   I was browsing around the oriental supermarket in my city today and it was a different one to the one I usually go to – bigger and with more choice.   Loads of ingredients for making sushi and miso soup and so on.   Now, I usually buy my noodles either at a regular supermarket or an oriental market (by regular I mean big name western ones, obviously the `oriental` or `asian` ones to us are regular to the Asian population of the city and if they were situated in their original countries, they wouldn`t be called `oriental` or `asian` which they are clearly signed as here!! ).  Most of the noodles sold in `regular` supermarkets aren`t that great or abundant in variety so if I want the real deal and I`m not in a shop out in the countryside and in a hurry to get noodles, I go to an oriental supermarket in the city.  Some products though are sold in both places.  Like already cooked/boiled noodles.  Either in perishable form in the fridge or in a similar form but not stored in the fridge (strangely). I hate these versions that you just throw into your pan/wok on top of your veggies.  I prefer to boil them myself and add them to the pan, or throw the veggies on top of the noodles in the bowl.  I like browsing through the asian supermarkets whether I want to buy something or not (though usually I try to buy at least one thing).  I bought rice wine vinegar a month ago from a regular supermarket and I still haven`t even opened the bottle.  Ditto for a bottle of sesame seed oil I bought last week.  I tend to do that sometimes, buy stuff like this with the intention of making something (and reading recipes in newspapers and thinking `oh yeah I`ll try that this week` – yeah right!! Nine times out of ten I don`t).   Nothing perishable or likely to go off of course.  I`m not a food waster!!   That said, mushrooms get a hard time once bought by me. I buy them, keep them in the fridge and forget about them for a few days until they`re barely still usable.  I love mushrooms (especially with courgette and noodles) but most of the time they are victim to browning because I keep them in the fridge too long.

I love Asian food, mainly Japanese, Chinese or Vietnamese.  Thai food is lovely too though it can be a bit spicy for my palate.  I thought Cambodian food was a bit bland from what I recall but it was still satisfying (and no reflection on the country which is not bland at all).  Having travelled around Asia and lived for a time in China and Japan one thing I can say they all have in common (mostly Japan, China and Vietnam) is their culinary greatness.   Some of my most relaxing moments from travelling and living abroad have been around food.  Back home, anyone who gives out about Chinese take-aways (and most take-away restaurants dealing with East Asian food are Chinese so I`ll stick with China for the moment) is usually given a quick lecture by me on how Chinese food is actually delicious and very healthy and not like the junk you get in most takeaways outside of China (most of it is junk to be honest so they are correct but that just makes me want to stand up for Chinese food even more).

I`m going to refer to one of my fave Japanese films again, Tampopo.  This is a cinematic ode to food if ever there was one.   Mostly Japanese food and the attention given to it, seeing as it was based around a struggling noodle shop, but actually a few scenes gave the nod to China.  One scene featured a con artist enjoying Beijing duck (yumm – I love Beijing duck).  The chauffeur to the rich old man saved by Tampopo from choking on his natto (with a vacuam cleaner no less) may have been Chinese.  He said he was shown how to cook noodles by a noodle stand owner in Chugoku which is both the word for China and one of the regions in Japan (a region in western Honshu, of which Hiroshima is the capital) and I reckon it was the former he meant, but correct me if I`m wrong.   Yet another character, who Tampopo tricks information out of about cooking noodles (it`s like Mama`s secret recipe to Italians – each chef has his own secret), is a chef who boasts that the spring water he uses to cook the noodles comes straight from his native Guangzhou.  Hurray to positive Sino-Japanese relations …. especially when it comes to food (and even if one nationality is conning the other into giving away secret information)!!

No pun was intended in the pan-Asian relations title by the way.

Below is a poster, which I found on-line,of this 1985 cinematic gem.

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