I was tempted to title this post “fruit behaving badly” but this is, after all, Tokyo ridiculousness and not San Francisco ridiculousness. Teehee.
I’ve mentioned before that fruit here can be quite expensive, but once you get used to paying $2 for the best apples you’ve ever eaten, and make peace with the fact that most fruit you can only get while it’s in season (my brief affair with the persimmons having dissolved rather unexpectedly when the season ended), sometimes it seems like the fruit situation is not so terrible. Kiwis are currently in season, as are the Harukas (see my earlier post) and are delicious and sortof reasonably priced.
However, then you take a trip to one of the higher-end grocery stores, and you witness a $400 box of cherries, and you decide all over again that this country is NUTS.
Part of what’s going on here is that there’s a huge difference between these fruit and your average apple/cherry/melon just hanging out in a bin of other apples/etc. Those are plebian apples, delicious as they may be.
What we are looking at here are gift-wrapped fruit (cue cymbal crash). Fruit (and other food intended to be given as gifts) become infinitely more expensive when you pad, wrap, and box them. Presumably this fruit is also of the best quality (but we’ve never bought or received a $400 box of cherries, so we cannot testify to this fact.) There seems to be some middle castes (like the melon above) which are gift-class but as of yet un-boxed, but by and large fruit is either local, seasonal, and plebian, or unholy-expensive.
Most grocery stores seem to have some small selection of these gift-fruits, but in expensive groceries they take a proud front and center position in the store displays.
These are not just due to our proximity to valentines day either — they seem to be a popular gift year-round. It’s enough to convince you that living in California is a fruit-gold-mine. Although I’m sure that v-day has also bolstered some of these displays — the single-serving strawberries in particular I thought were pretty cute (if outrageously priced.) Better be a damn good strawberry!
Also, I’m not sure what the deal with the white strawberries is. They’re actually white, they haven’t been dipped in white chocolate or anything. The Japanese seem to have gotten into the chocolate-dipped dried or candied fruit, but not so much with the fresh fruit (that we’ve seen.)
We bemuse the locals by taking pictures of their gift-fruit, although I believe we’d get in trouble for snapping these shots in the store if the staff caught us. Consider us brave warriors in the pursuit of ridiculously-overpriced-fruit-porn.
But enough about the fruit — Tokyo is chok full of other bizarre things, including signage for some of life’s more unusual necessities. This dog-wash sign was randomly stuck to the side of a building — I can only surmise that all those little purse-dogs that the ladies carry around in their bags must sometimes have accidents and need a bath in a hurry.
The rest of my (well, to be honest, Jen’s) random left-over photos are less bizarre and more delicious, starting, naturally, with a very full glass of sake.
In many restaurants here, they bring you a glass (like an oversized shotglass) in a box, and then fill the glass until it overflows, and fills the box around it. This is a sign of prosperity/generosity/etc. Sometimes, however, things are so full to start with, that you need to sip a little off the top before picking it up.
Yakitori is one of our favorite treats here, and something we’re going to miss very much when we return to the states. I don’t know how they do it, exactly, since it appears to be mostly meat + stick + touch of salt and oil, but these meat-sticks taste better than any other meat-stick I’ve ever had. Although, I do believe that some of the yakitori in the picture are in fact bacon-wrapped hicama and not really unadulterated meat-sticks. Still delicious though!
There are some things that Jen has had more frequently than I, since she has traveled in Asia much more. Included in this is Korean BBQ, which I had for the first time only recently (much to Jen’s surprise).
It’s a fun experience — a good combination of tasty food, and some entertainment. An adult version of playing with your food. Jen said that there are better Korean BBQ places than the little restaurant that she and I walked past near the house, which I’m looking forward to!
And lastly, more pictures of me eating!! (Sitting at the table is one of those times when we remember to take photos, so we manage to give the impression that we’re eating our way through Japan. Only partly true… 😉 ) Japan is more into food-tourism than anywhere I’ve ever been.
This restaurant is a relatively new Texas BBQ joint that opened up near our house (probably counting on the US embassy employees to keep it in business) but they make some of the best brisket I’ve ever had. Who’d have thought we’d come to Tokyo for delicious Texas BBQ?
And now, after telling you that we were planning a rather dull weekend, I have posted three times and it’s only Saturday! Tomorrow we have friends coming over for brunch, so unless I find my own cooking particularly photogenic, I think you should be safe for at least 12 hours 😉