Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Dinner at Mariko-san's - Saturday, November 5, 2016

Okamoto Hajime's cat drawings are
famous throughout Japan.
My big event for the day is going to dinner at Mariko-san's house.  She's going to come at 6pm to pick me up since I don't know where she lives.  It's not too far away but it will be dark then.  I spend part of the afternoon at my old haunt, Seiyu Department Store, looking for things to bring home as gifts and needed items.  One is an alarm clock that's small but has a push button to light it in the night time and rather large clearly written numbers---all that for 980 yen (about $9.80 or so).  I bought some calendars for friends and what looks like a calendar of Okamoto Hajime's cat drawings which I love and know from before.  Reading more closely it says it's a 5-year calendar!

KFC is very popular in Japan.  But their biscuits
have holes in the center....
Since I'm going to dinner later, I sit and watch Mama-san and friend, Forde Sakuoka, eat KFC fried chicken.  It's difficult because I'm hungry and it's only 5:00 and I have an hour to wait before Mariko-san comes.  Mama-san and Forde and I discuss the quality of KFC in Japan and I discover that there's a big difference between the stores.  The KFC in Narimasu (the closest and near the station) is pretty good, but the KFC in Wakoshi, one station away, is considered better because the chicken is saltier.  They actually survey their customers to find out what they like.  I can't image a McDonalds being different from town to town in the US.  The oddest thing though is the hold in the middle of the biscuit!  They've saved the biscuit for me to have for breakfast the next morning and I'm really disappointed to find it tasteless (no salt) and tough.  And they sell French Fries at Japanese KFCs.  I shouldn't complain or comment since it's been 15-20 years since I visited a KFC in the US....

Mariko-san comes at 6pm.  Her husband, Ken-chan, is waiting in their car around the corner.  I'm glad I didn't have to find my way int he dark because there are a lot of turns down tiny streets that, at night, feel like back alleys.

Mariko-san has fixed an array of dishes, none of which I remember to photograph, so you'll have to believe me that they had lovely presentation and tasted wonderful.  Dinner went by very quickly.

I did think to photograph their tropical fish that were right next to my seat at the table.  They seemed to be fascinated with us and our food.

We finished the evening by looking at pictures on their keitai denwa (cell phones) of their travels which have been extensive and often.  They love to fly to Vail, Colorado, to sky every February (Vail is cheaper than Aspen...).  They've gone to Cuba, Myanmar, Italy and are off to Malta and Cyprus in a few weeks.  The only thing odd is that they never eat the local food.  They travel with three suitcases, one packed with all their own food:  rice, a rice cooker, and all the packaged prepared food they'd need for the 10-day trip.  Mariko-san doesn't like meat and only eat vegetables and fruit.  Ken-chan loves meat and really doesn't like veggies.  He seems to eat fruit, though, as we had Asian pear (nashi) for dessert.  They certainly had a lot of images of the food in the foreign country, just no experience in eating it.

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