Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Grocery Shopping In Japan

So one of the most frustrating things for a foodie living in another country where they don't speak or read the language has got to be buying groceries. There is only so much you can understand by seeing and feeling things. I know that I have a desire to cook while living in Japan and to create some delicious Japanese infused dishes but it is hard when you can't even figure out that the cooking oil you put in your cart is actually vinegar...luckily I figured that one out before buying it (thank God for the strong scent that vinegar emits even when the seal is not broken). I have managed to find some normal things but then there are items like butter and/or milk...I thought I finally bought some butter only to find out when I got home that it was more like margarine, which is fine it's just not what I wanted. Same goes with what I thought was Alfredo sauce, turns out it was more like a condensed soup pasta sauce, it works it's just not what I really wanted...etc. 

So yeah, grocery shopping has been quite the experience for me. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for this experience and the chance to work with Japanese ingredients, I just wish I could open everything and taste it before buying. Another example would be Japanese mayo, we have had good experiences with Japanese mayo in restaurants and so I thought I would buy us some so that I could make us some tuna or crab salad (tuna and crab are both ridiculously cheap here), I found wasabi flavored and figured it had to be good...I was wrong, it is more like a miracle whip with wasabi and no offense to those who love miracle whip but I am more of a Best Foods kind a gal and so it was another bust for buying something at the grocery store. I recently purchased a different brand of regular Japanese mayo and I am hoping for the best with that one. These are just a few of my grocery woes but overall I have had some great experiences as well, especially with how cheap seafood and Japanese staples are. For example, I bought some fresh salmon (sake), enough for two at a total of 319 yen (~$3). I have also bought us some pre-made gyoza that only require some frying and so we got 14 gyoza for a mere 98 yen ($1)...not too shabby. Also, most vegetables are relatively cheap, I bought some bean sprouts for 38 yen (40 cents) and a huge stock of green onions for 48 yen (50 cents). Also, one shocking thing is that rice is not much cheaper here, we bought a 2 kg (4.4 lb) bag of Japanese sticky rice for 2,100 yen (~$21) but the rice is fabulous and perfect for Japanese cuisine (obviously). Something else that is not so cheap is fruit of all kinds except apricots and kiwis. All fruits have to be imported and so one peach can cost you 500 yen ($5), which is ridiculous. I have really been craving fruit but since it is so expensive I have opted for the cheaper version with fruit cups for 100 yen ($1), they are much tastier than canned fruit from home and the fruit tastes fresher, it is still a bit crisp and it's packed in a jello like substance so overall satisfying. So yeah, that is all I have to share for now on food. I hope you enjoy my photos depicting these experiences. Oh and don't worry, I will keep trying new things even if I fail at times.

 Veggies in the market
 Packaged Japanese meats, my fave is the "fresh" crab meat for 108 yen
Another market photo
 Our cheap salmon (keep in mind it had bones and skin) and giant garlic
   Our bag of rice and I finally found some mochi (yum)

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