Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I have a confession to make. I'm not cooking! (Much.)

Remember my arguments about why I couldn't join the swimming center because membership times hit around the time I'm finishing up teaching and usually cooking dinner? Tetsu said he didn't mind if we ate convenience store rice balls but that seemed a bit extreme.

SOOOOooo. I am having meals brought in! Ah, how easily I can give up my role of loving chef.

Many years ago I ate lunch at a wonderful "restaurant" called Shinkatei, that was set up in someone's home. The older woman who ran it made a "chef's special" each day and she was happy if she had 10 or 15 people come in a day and she charged about $10. (Good price by Japanese standards.) The food was wonderful and very Japanese with lots of little dishes and tasty tidbits. I even asked her if she taught cooking since I'd love to learn how to make these things but she laughed and said no, it was just plain ol' home cooking.

The fourth or fifth time I had lunch at this restaurant I notice a handmade poster saying that the woman was starting cooking classes after all. Enough people had been impressed and asked about learning how to cook traditional Japanese food that she decided to comply. I signed up immediately and once a month I'd go to her house and with three or four other ladies make three dishes. After cooking we would always sample our dishes and then divvy up all the cooked food to take home for dinner that night. All this for about $20. I went monthly to Shinkatei for about 5 years and learned a lot about Japanese cooking. Unfortunately though I enjoyed cooking there, I never gained great enthusiasm for cooking in general. I have a notebook full of recipes and I make a few things regularly but...

Shinkatei's owner decided at the end of last year that she was stopping her cooking classes and with the help of her husband and daughter was instead going to start a Meals on Wheels service. For $4 a meal, one can have a simple Japanese style meal delivered and all you have to do is make your own rice (in your rice cooker with a timer). It isn't a lot of food but it is a great service for older people who don't get out or for busy people like me who don't make the time to cook. The meals are delivered around 2:00 and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday the main dish is meat, while on Tuesday and Thursday it is fish. It is quite enough food for me at the end of the day, but a little skimpy for Tetsu so he will include a block of cold tofu or natto (fermented soy beans!)

Let's see. Last Tuesday the menu was deep fried smelt and vegetables, freeze dried tofu and green beans, slimy potatoes and okura, and eggplant pickles. Sounds healthy doesn't it? Then on Wednesday the menu was gingered chicken patties and sweet cabbage salad, bitter gourd (goya) and fish cakes, simmered seaweed and seaweed with spaghetti squash. I did manage to pull myself together for Thursday and Friday night's dinner and the weekend.

Anyway, the meals are healthy, they incorporate a lot of vegetables, the portions are ideal for dieters (which Tetsu and I are supposed to be), the food is delicious, (I knew it was going to be) and the price is good. All that I need to overcome is the image of myself shirking on my housewife duties. Meals on Wheels! It sounds like I am decrepit and heading for the out-to-pasture farm... I can't even get this service for my mother in the States and she's the one who needs it!

And with my free time I am going to the pool almost nightly and walking. Walking around and around and around I sort of feel like a hamster in a wheel. A pampered hamster.

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