Thursday, January 15, 2009

The merits of taco rice and Japanese school lunch

Next, I want to make Chicken Tikka Masala. I'll do some more poking around in recipes. It's my favorite Indian dish, and apparently it's become the national food of Englishpeople. "The" international food of India? Interesting. Kind of like how orange chicken and sweet-sour sauce have become the national foods of China, even though "No self-respecting Chinaman would touch such git hey things" (<--in the words of my mother) . . . kind of.

Today at school the lunch was far above my expectations for a $2 meal, as usual. I am daunted by the amount of food you get. I wish I could remember my camera every day, so I could document the care, presentation, and overall healthfulness of Japanese school lunch. Today was an Okinawan original, taco rice. Taco Rice is shortgrain white rice, topped by seasoned taco meat (chili, basically), chopped lettuce, tomato, and tiny 1-milimeter cubes of cheese (white, almost tasteless cheese of the variety you also find in Latin America). That could have been a meal in itself, especially considering the heaping portion they gave me. And honestly, it was at least three times better than the watery, cheap, lackluster taco rice I paid 950 yen for in "Jammin' Taco Cafe." The school lunch version had a bit of sweetness, a bit of kick (and a packet of hot sauce, if you so chose), and quality meat, spices, and veggies. It wasn't "superb" by restaurant standards, but it was damn good for school lunch.

The lunch also included a yummy rendition of egg flower soup, loaded with delicate, flavorful egg flowers, transparent sweet onion, a bit of corn for creaminess, parsley, and green onion. I approved. This soup was at least a bushel's worth of flavor and heartiness better than any I've had in a Chinese restaurant, cheap or not.

We also got a ring of sliced pineapple, milk, and a packet of slightly salted almonds in our school lunch!

...sigh. I wish the US would stop feeding the kids fake chicken patties, terrible meatloaf, limp frozen french fries, and corn syrupy fruit cocktail for lunch. Where does the Japanese school lunch system go right when the US system went so, so wrong? I mean, even if the US lunch tastes ok (dare I say sometimes good?) to the kids, it is far less healthy and takes far less time to prepare than Japanese school lunch.

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