English and Japanese major
Doshisha University, Japan
Academic Year 2016-2017
One of the hardest things for me has been food. Not getting food, but making food. Which, truth be told, I didn’t think would be that big of a deal. Before studying abroad, I lived in an apartment off campus for a year, so, naturally, I was used to supplying food for myself and making meals. Although, now that I think about it, I often ate out, brought home food from work, and ate frozen dinners for the sake of convenience. Sure, I made simple things (eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch or dinner, etc.) but actually meals? Not very common. If I made a meal, it was a whole ordeal. I wanted to make sure I had a main dish and a side, and sometimes even a dessert. The main reason meals like this were so rare was because food was expensive, and between work and school, I didn’t necessarily have time to cook something.
But here, cooking is almost a necessity. There is a cafeteria on campus, but no meal plans. So I have to decide if it’s better for me to spend money on one meal, or spend the same amount (or maybe just a little more) on ingredients that I can turn into something that will last me two or three days. I like to think I’m pretty creative in the kitchen. I know the basics, and I love just throwing things together, but it’s a lot harder when a lot of ingredients are different here. It’s not necessarily that they’re different, but because I don’t know a lot of kanji (Chinese characters), it’s hard to tell what’s what.
Today, I cooked my first meal. Well, second, I suppose. The first Japanese cuisine I made was something called tamago gohan. Tamago means egg, and gohan means rice. Which is exactly what it was. You get a bowl of rice, crack an egg on top of the rice (yes, a raw egg), add some soy sauce and salt, and mix it up. Really simple, really quick, and pretty filling. This is what it looks like. While the texture is different, and takes a little getting used to, it was surprisingly good. But this was from a week or so ago.
Today, I essentially made shrimp fried rice without actually frying the rice. It wasn’t fancy, and I only put egg, shrimp, and mushroom (plus the rice, obviously, and some salt and soy sauce), but I made it, and it was really good, and really filling. There was something really satisfying about eating something I had made, rather than bought. Plus, I have leftovers that should last me probably two more meals, at least.
I’m excited to explore more and learn more recipes. Not only is it more satisfying, but it’s typically cheaper than buying pre-made meals.