Saturday, 6 November 2010

Back to the Future

Back to Being Oyomesan.

Thursday night Yujiro had a bicycle taxi drivers' end of season party, so I did Dinner Alone with Okaasan for the first time in ages. Went ok, I guess. Just heated up curry and rice with beans.
At lunchtime I'd won a 2kg bag of rice at the local kaiten sushi place - so I had that on the table and  Okaasan and I talked about THAT - 5 or 6 times - and then got onto wartime and rice and Kawagoe and food and Yujiro and drinking etc. All ok. I managed to escape in about 40 minutes.
I think Okaasan understands where I went recently and why: hard to tell really because Japanese people don't really talk much about bad luck situations of death or sickness, so her non-commenting is more a cultural politeness and sensitivity than anything else.

Dinner a Deux was a warm-up for next week's impending duties: Yujiro is away for a week in Tokyo area visiting old friends from years back and I will be on Oyomesan Fulltime after day of feeding and chatting to Okaasan, making sure she gets to hula dance, sneaking in to clean her room and making sure she has lunch at home or out or whatever.
My Japanese is a bit rusty after 10 days in the Uk, so I hope it goes ok....the feeding is doable really because there are plenty of pre-cooked food or instant food packs, but only my addled brain can help me with sitting across a table every evening and trying to think up enough chat in Japanese to fill out the time while we eat. And trying to escape gracefully from Okaasan's ramblings.
Can't use the "Have to phone England" excuse anymore cos nobody to phone! :-((

* Never the Twain Shall Meet: last night we had nabe for dinner.  Nabe is a table-top, open deep electric pan with water, stock, vegetables, meat/fish/tofu all thrown in and simmered. A very good standard Japanese food and easy to do. We eat it endlessly because it takes a short time to make and gives us a warm family feeling of gathering round to pick stuff out and eat.
But....Never the Twain?
Yesterday I bought sweet potato and thought THAT might be nice to throw in the nabe pot.
Sweet potato?
Oh no! Yujiro and Okaasan thought that was VERY strange.
No way! Too sweet! Potato maybe ok. Maybe.
Yujiro did at least try a bit, but didn't think it was any good. Okaasan didn't go near it.
Very Japanese this - having an absolutely fixed idea about what foods go with what foods.
Nabe is basically anything thrown in water with stock...but...sweet potato? No....
Mushrooms ok. Chinese cabbage ok.
Sweet potato. No.
I can understand if it was lettuce or chocolate maybe.
But sweet potato? Seemed ok to me...seemed good actually.
Funny people Japanese. Not too much thinking outside the box. the Box is the box, and that is good.
I reckon the box needs a good shake sometimes.


  1. I just asked hub if he thought it was OK in nabe he said it 'wouldn't not be OK' - so next time you want sweet potatoes in your nabe come down to Oita :) Good luck for the week without Yujiro.

  2. I completely understood the sweet potato not being ok in the nabe thing....actually a light went on in my head as I was reading that. My husband does this also-not want to eat certain foods with other foods or try new things.
    When I ask 'why" he usually says-because we don't eat that with THAT! ok....

  3. I find that funny, as I was brought up that way, I have a very rigid idea of what foods should go with which, but my husband on the other hand is very relaxed and throws anything in together, even with Japanese food. Being married to him has really broadened my horizons with food and I now mix things together that makes my mum gasp in shock. So I think it depends on the person, not all Japanese are like that. :)

  4. Yeah...there are so many things that the Japanese just WON'T do or make cuz it's beyond the realm of their imagination.... I imagine every place has it's quirks...
    Otsukaresama on your trip...I know it was a hard one.. I also know about the Japanese being rusty even after a short time in the homeland... Good luck for the rest of the week with okaasan.
    Had night shift last night... the old lady there said that we haven't fed her for WEEKS.... (*sigh*)

  5. Is this your mother-in-law that you're caring for? I just read a couple of posts, but I was getting the impression that you're not married. If you're not married, I would NOT be taking care of someone else's mother. If you don't want to do it (which it seems that you don't) then I'd tell your boyfriend to shove it and move on. Seems like you are more the hired help than his significant other. Hope this is not offensive; I just feel so bad you are in this position. :(

  6. HI Anonymous,

    Thankyou for your worries - but don't worry - I am married to this guy in all but the paperwork. We've been together for...I don't know...13 years now....didn't have a wedding ceremony because we couldn't see any point...but emotionally/practically/financially/i nsickness and in health...we are very bound to eachother.

    So...I agreed that we'd care for his mum....didn't really have a choice cos it was something he felt he HAD to do - she was living in squalor and fighting with public entities about money...not eating etc....

    Don't worry...this is one of those life things you have to do if you love someone and share a life taking on step-kids, or sticking with a terminally ill relative till the end...just have to do it. :-))

  7. Welcome back to Oyomesan life!
    Oh my god, I asked Ryota if sweet potato in nabe was strange and he was like "Ewwww!!" That's gross!!
    I then quizzed him as to why it was OK in butajiru which is basically the same as nabe and he was all defensive saying it doesn't matter, sweet potato does not belong in nabe under ANY circumstances. I'm keen for box shaking too!!!