The Kitchen Buffoon Speaks

No one really wants to read about Hell’s Kitchen. You do, however, want to read this, from Jodi at Pistols and Popcorn, the woman who defeated me in the Bloggies because she has a fat brother who rides a bike.  Also because she’s more interesting than me.  But mostly the fat-guy-on-bike thing. When you’re done, why not read the week’s guest posts from some other kick-ass bloggers, if you haven’t already? Which you should have. (If you’re wondering why all the guests: go here.)

Being a guest writer is a little intimidating.  No one is actually coming here to hear from me, yet here I am with all my words and you’re here anyway, so why don’t you just park your sweet candy ass down and spend a few minutes with me?  First, let me say that I’ve got nothing intelligible to say about cooking.  I am a buffoon in the kitchen.  Still, Thursday Night Smackdown is one of my favorite reads, so I’m going to try to do right by you group of rowdy food lovers.

Michelle suggested that I possibly tackle a post about drinks…after all: I was a bartender at one point.  But see here’s the problem: though I was a bartender, it was in Japan.  And there, it was essentially three-drink-easy: Whisky and water, Shochu (Soju) and water, or Beer.  Ummmm…this was easy enough that even I couldn’t screw it up.

A little background: while exploring my impossibly carefree and whimsical mid-twenties, I landed in Nagano, Japan.  The series of events that took me there involved black-market English teaching in Seoul, Korea, the actual deportation of an almost boyfriend (as opposed to the almost deportation of an actual boyfriend), and the collapse of the Korean economy.  Nagano opened her arms up to me and gave me a big Japanese hug in the form of an apartment, a job, and a built-in set of friends.  We all lived together and worked at the same place and huddled around the kerosene heater in the living room, or sat alone on the heated toilet seat in the bathroom.  That is seriously a good idea.  Extraordinarily relaxing.  I’m sorry, back to the drink.

To be a bartender in Japan, or at least where I worked, you had to be a pretty capable drinker.  The customers don’t order drinks by the glass, but would buy the entire bottle, put their name on it, and drink cocktails from that bottle. Most of the bars are set up this way.  The goal is clearly to empty the bottle as quickly as possible, so the customer will buy yet another bottle.  Not only do you refresh their drink after about every third sip (this is not a poetic or creative exaggeration.  Their drink would always be at least ¾ full.  Or else.), you were also expected to drink with each customer.  A rule of conduct was that you didn’t move your drink from person to person, but that you would have a different drink poured for yourself for each customer, from his or her bottle.  So during the course of the night, bartenders would have anywhere from two to six drinks of their own lined up on the bar in play at any given moment.

My first night on the job ruined me.  I didn’t know the pace to keep, and didn’t have any idea how to surreptitiously dump my drink in the sink without being noticed.  Eventually I caught on to the nuances of staying somewhat functional for the entire shift, but it wasn’t without incident.  There were many karaoke moments that probably shouldn’t have happened.  There were a few nights I thought I was probably fluent in Japanese and tried to express myself with my new found language skill.  Those instances were to my memory – mostly met with laughter.

And with that laughter I have come to the mention of food.  Clearly after a bender, (which happened to be every night at work), you need snacks.  So though I cannot cook, I can recommend what to pick up in Japan when you are drunk and cannot read any labels because everything is written in Japanese or non-sensical (but beautiful?) nursery-rhyme type poetry.

The Good:

The Tempting but Really You’d Better Say “No”:

And, The Seriously?  Even a Baka Gaijin Should Know Better than to even consider these:

Thanks for reading, and since I’m safe in the land of swearing and sunshine my signoff shall be:

Konichiwa, bitches.

0 thoughts on “The Kitchen Buffoon Speaks

  1. BWAH!!!

    I suspect you may have been teaching English at the same school in Nagano as a friend of mine.

    She kept sending me fish-flavoured snacks and wasabi peas. She likes fish-flavoured snacks. I like wasabi peas. It all worked out.

  2. You are extraordinarily helpful since I do a great deal of shopping at my local Asian market and they have EVERY one of those things you pictured above. Thank you.

  3. BadHairLife – There’s this weird phenomenon that happens in Japan. Anything that is mixed with fish ends up being a great combination. I loved most of the snacks when I lived there. But here’s the rub – when I returned to the states, I couldn’t bear any of those fish-combo snacks any more. Weird, but somehow true.

    Rebecca – I cannot reccommend “Every Burger” highly enough. More advice: buy more than one box at a time. And don’t offer to share with your friends.

  4. Here’s the problem with that. I have five sons aged 12 and under. They ferret out my food stores. They even found the chocolate I hid in my underwear drawer.

  5. You are one of those people who makes me think that everyone has a more interesting life than I do.

    Tell me about those shrimp flavored chips! I used to work as a day camp counselor at a town-run camp in a town full of Japanese people temporarily working in the US. I always had a few Japanese kids in my group and they always had the strangest snacks in their lunches. Another counselor was trying to mooch the kids’ snacks off them one day and suddenly I saw her making a mad dash for the water fountain. She screamed, “Aya gave me a chip. I thought it was a potato chip and it tasted like FISH.”

    “American soft?” I’m American and that weirds me out. What is it green?

  6. my bartending days were nowhere near as fun as yours, though i’m grateful we didn’t have karaoke. actually, i think i’m grateful that my bartending days weren’t as much fun as yours…there’s no telling how i would’ve turned out. pickled, i think. but i’m happy knowing that others had such an experience! the world seems to make better sense when i read stuff like this.

  7. I learned the hard way not to try to drink with Japanese. They may be little. They CAN outdrink you. I took a dozen of ‘em to dinner one night and there were 27 pitchers of beer consumed.

    And with that, konbanwa and oyasume nasai.

  8. Rachel – judging by the cup of luminous green tea in the background of the packet, I’d say they’re made with Matcha (green tea powder), hence the colour.

  9. Rebecca – 5 under 12? Really?? I bow to you.

    Kali – What, you don’t ordinarily eat F-Cup cookies? Less painful than surgery, I suppose. I have seen the American Soft cookies in my Asian Market but I’ve also seen things that I shouldn’t have seen there. I’ll leave it at that.

    Rachel – I cannot explain the fish injected into everything. It is true. I once bought what I thought was string cheese (many purchases were done with blind faith, as I couldn’t read the packaging). The string cheese turned out to be fish flavored cheese. It was disturbing. But I finished it. I’m like that. Shrimp flavored chips are a favorite, served everywhere. Fish and everything, together at last.

    Burkie – I’d never been inclined to have any karaoke in my life until I moved there. But when a customer requests that you sing, you literally cannot say no. Not only that, they get to choose what song you sing. There was a lot of John Denver and Neil Diamond. I can’t hear anything by those artists now without getting a little nostalgic. Strange, that.

    Kay – That is a lesson that cannot be emphasized enough. I learned the same lesson in Korea. Soju, the drink of choice there waffled between friend (surprisingly cheap and potent!) and enemy (surprisingly cheap and potent!)

    Isabeelle – You’re a smarteee pants.

    Kristin – Well, really it’s more of a “don’t ask don’t tell” situation. They may well have something to do with koala bears, but their biscuity goodness negates any qualms I may have about eating koalas.

  10. I’m glad I don’t live in a country where most everything is injected with the flavor of fish. Now…..bacon- flavored everything? That I could easily live with.

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