Welcome once again to another edition of the Gaijin Gourmet – It’s our first “Travel Edition”!
It’s coming to the end of the year and that means lots of parties, drinking and eating too much, get-togethers, drinking, Thanksgiving, eating and drinking too much, Christmas, more drinking, falling down, acting like an idiot, New Year’s parties, and eating and drinking too much (and just all-around being an embarrassment to myself and everyone else when I’m drunk and making an ass of myself).
And, if you live in Japan, of course this time of the year also means, year-end “Matsuri” (Japanese Festival).
The Gaijin Gourmet at the matsuri trying to act like he is important and doing something useful!
Of course with all these parties and dinners we have to attend, we must also watch what we eat and be careful of our stomachs and bulging waistlines. In particular, once ‘we fine diners’ (that’s you and me, dear reader!) get past 50-years-old, we have a checklist of things we can and cannot eat – or, if we do partake, we do so in moderation. We enjoy in moderation because we don’t want to have to take all sorts of medicines and nasty chemicals from that pesky doctor who keeps warning us about inconveniences like “myocardial infarction,” “intracerebral hemorrhages,” “pulmonary embolism,” “hyperuricemia” blah, blah blah!
Oh, doctor! Those are big words! I’m so scared!
Sorry, doc, I’m busy! I don’t have time for your Ivy-League graduate big words! I only worry about foods that may cause real problems like: heart attacks, stokes, blockages of the arteries, Gout and sudden death.
I worry about real problems… Like the hangover I have right now; it’s not a pretty sight!… Especially when it is me looking in the mirror at myself and – damn! I don’t remember coming home last night!
The local villagers all gather round at this time of year to greet and pay respects and thank the gods for a good harvest for the year. It is a ritual that goes back a thousand years. At the shrine, people toss in coins and pray to the gods for family health, happiness, prosperity, world peace and a winning lottery ticket.
So, with that in mind, let’s try to cut out all sweets, carbohydrates, alcohol and other foods high in cholesterol and very bad for our health and enjoy the festivities and food at the Japanese matsuri!
Early hours. The festival grounds are not crowded yet. The Gaijin Gourmet always avoids crowds.
Today we’re going to the matsuri near my house in Setagaya! Yeah!
They hold the matsuri near my house every year around mid-October. Usually, I eat tons of food and drink too much but this year we’re on that “Health-Kick” that quack doctor ordered. Let’s see what kind of delicious food we can eat at the festival and still stick to my “Doctor’s orders” diet!
Oh, my god! First thing I see is one of my favorites! Okonomiyaki! Okonomiyaki is kind of like a Japanese pancake… But it’s not like a western style pancake; it isn’t sweet. It is filled with vegetables and a little bacon or pork in an egg and flour batter! Delicious!… Oh, wait a minute! I can’t eat any carbohydrates and the bacon is filled with cholesterol. I guess we’ll just have to skip the Okonomiyaki this year! But, fear not! There’s still plenty more!
Onward and upward my palates!
This is Yakisoba. This is the staple of any Japanese festival or event: It is noodles fried on a flat skittle with mixed in vegetables and pork… I love it! I’ll have one, please….Oops!… No. I can’t have one. The noodles are made from flour, there’s pork in it and it is fried in oil! Probably Cholesterol City (not to mention it has carbohydrates!)…
The wife orders one anyway. She says it tastes pretty good. But, hey! Why is it that sometimes the Yakisoba at the matsuri doesn’t have any pork in it? Cheapskates!
Next up, by far my favorite food of them all! Takoyaki! They are delicious! Foreigners call Takoyaki, “Octopus Balls.” Octopus Balls? You know like “Men’s balls!” Yuck! Sounds awful! But Takoyaki tastes great! I want some!
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion and then sprinkled with green dried sea weed (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito (katsuobushi).
Oh, but, come to think of it, I can’t eat octopus either because the doctor says it is really high in cholesterol so it is really bad for me – squid too…
So, no Takoyaki this year!
On to the next stand… I’m sure there is something that isn’t high in cholesterol and full of carbohydrates!
Pork or made of fish? I don’t know, but I’m guessing that these are extremely high in cholesterol and just looking at them makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack!
But they do look so good, don’t they? At least these don’t have any carbohydrates in them! Come on! One bite couldn’t hurt….
“No! Absolutely not!” I imagine my doctor yelling into my ear!
Ah? My totally all-time favorite food: Yakitori. Yakitori is Japanese style barbecued chicken on sticks.
If there is only one type of Japanese food in heaven, it has to be Yakitori! I’ll bet even God eats Yakitori! I could eat it everyday forever! This is the ultimate Japanese tasty food that goes along great with any drinks and on any occasion.
As I am about to yell, “Give me ten sticks, please!” I see my wife glaring at me. I can read her mind! She is thinking, “I know if you start eating Yakitori, you’ll start drinking beer too; and then if you start drinking beer, you won’t be able to control yourself and you’ll start drinking more and eat everything in sight!”
Wow! She’s right! We’ve been married for over twenty years! How did she know that?!
This year, I’ll pass on the Yakitori, but, ummmm…. That sure smells good!
Hey, what’s the deal here? There’s absolutely nothing I can eat at the festival that doesn’t have carbohydrates or very high cholesterol! No fair!
Wait! What? There is at least two things at the matsuri to eat that don’t have any carbohydrates or cholesterol? What are they?
Kakigori: Shaved ice with sugar flavored syrup… The kids love it, especially on hot summer days. It has lots of calories but not nearly as fattening nearly as ice cream…
Kakigori?! No way! I have to eat something healthy for dinner before I can start eating sweets…
I need a healthy snack!
Chocolate covered bananas?
Oh, yeah… Right! “Please give me a chocolate covered banana without the chocolate!”
Is there nothing at the matsuri that a health-conscious guy like the Gaijin Gourmet can eat and still have fun while on our Weight-Watchers Diet?
Raw cucumber on a stick! Healthy and delicious… Not too much fun, though!
A raw cucumber on a stick! Mmmmm… Just like mom used to make… I can eat these. In fact I do, everyday at home! This cucumber cost ¥200 each (about $1.70 USD each)… Kind of expensive for a cucumber… Very salty too!
So, finally, at the entire matsuri, I had a bottle of water and a cucumber.
So, in summation, if you are going to a matsuri and you want to have fun, then toss the diet plan for that one night… Otherwise, about the only thing you’ll be able to eat and drink are raw vegetables (if they have those) and green tea or water.
… Just like if you were staying at home!
And just like I always say to my wife at home when we are arguing because she wants to go out to dinner and I want to stay home, I say, “What’s the point of going out if we are just going to come back home anyway?”
She has nothing to say when confronted with brilliant logic like that!
Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed our culinary journey to sample the aromas, drinks, and fine dining at the local matsuri. I hope to see you here next time when I go to another festival where the food is great.
That is, if I don’t have to do some “Doctor’s Stop” diet and I can eat anything or drink anything I like. Including a lot of booze!
…Otherwise I am staying home!
Looking for a delicious healthy meal in Tokyo, the world’s most expensive and crowded city for under $5 (USD)? Here’s a bunch of them linked below!
Gaijin Gourmet – Delicious, Healthy Meal in Tokyo for Under $3 (USD) – Yoshi Soba! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-delicious-healthy-meal-in-tokyo-for-under-3-usd-yoshi-soba/
Gaijin Gourmet – Delicious, Healthy Meal in Tokyo for Under $3 (USD) – Komoro Soba! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-delicious-healthy-meal-in-tokyo-for-under-3-usd-komoro-soba/
Gaijin Gourmet – Fuji Soba Tokyo’s Top 3 Soba Chain Restaurants robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-fuji-soba-tokyos-top-3-soba-chain-restaurants/
Gaijin Gourmet: 「モンスターMOGULLA！東京の地下からこんにちは」 robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-「モンスターmogulla！東京の地下からこんにちは/
Gaijin Gourmet! The Best, Most Delicious Soba Restaurant in Shibuya and Shinjuku robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-the-best-most-delicious-soba-restaurant-in-shibuya-and-shinjuku/
Gaijin Gourmet – Hamazushi! Tokyo’s Best Robot Sushi! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-hamazushi-tokyos-best-robot-sushi/
Gaijin Gourmet – Sukiya! Japan’s Best Gyudon (Beef Bowl) robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-sukiya-japans-best-gyudon-beef-bowl/
Gaijin Gourmet Advice for Foreign Gentlemen Living in Japan!
Gaijin Gourmet – Best Soba Chain in Tokyo？Yude Taro and ¥220 Draft Beer?! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-best-soba-chain-in-tokyo？yude-taro-and-¥220-draft-beer/
Gaijin Gourmet: The Best Premium Salad Bar in Tokyo? – Sizzler in Setagaya robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-the-best-premium-salad-bar-in-tokyo-sizzler-in-setagaya/
Gaijin Gourmet! Great Cheap and Delicious Soba in Gaienmae on Ginza Line! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-great-cheap-and-delicious-soba-in-gaienmae-on-ginza-line/
The Gaijin Gourmet: The Best Salad Bar Deal in Tokyo at Big Boy – My Favorite Rock N Roll Diner!! robot55.jp/blog/the-gaijin-gourmet-the-best-salad-bar-deal-in-tokyo-at-big-boy-my-favorite-rock-n-roll-diner/
Tokyo’s Best Cheap Sushi is in Okachimachi!? 東京の一番安くて美味しい寿司屋？御徒町にあるの？ http://robot55.jp/blog/tokyos-best-cheap-sushi-in-okachimachi/
The Gaijin Gourmet: Soba Wars At Hanzomon Station in Tokyo robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-soba-wars-at-hanzomon-station-in-tokyo/
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