Because of the fact that my father teaches English as a foreign language to an array of bewildered foreigners who arrive in South Africa for work, life etc, he ends up being exposed to various different cultures. We hardly ever get to share the experiences with him, apart from that repulsive looking dried-fish stuff he brought home once from his Korean students, but Saturday was an exception.
My father had been invited to dinner at the home of one of his students. For a change though, we were invited too! So on Saturday night, we went over to his student's house for a typical Japanese meal! My sister and I were so excited as the only taste of Japanese food we'd ever encountered was sushi and both of us are fascinated by Japanese culture.
We arrived at the house and were greeted almost immediately by the small (in number and stature) Japanese family. We were ushered into the house and give a pair of slippers each which we exchanged for our shoes to be worn in the house. The slippers were amazing. I need to get some! They were so warm and actually had grip (I still can't really figure that out...)!
After some brief introdutions, we were moved over to the table where all the food was layed out for us already. It was really beautiful! We each had our own chopsticks (I love chopsticks!!!) and the most beautiful ceramic plates! they looked like the kind of thing that most people would have hanging on their walls, not eating off!
We then started the meal. We were having sushi, which we made ourselves. Being a vegetarian, I was provided with avocado (it apparently tastes similar to the tune everyone else had) instead of fish as well as sliced omlette-like egg to put into mine. It was so nice! I love sushi and apart from biltong (a South African invention akin to beef jerky, but better, I'm told...), it's the only meat-related food that I miss as a vegetarian.
We also had a soup and some cold rice-salad stuff. The problem with this was that it all had meat in it which I don't do. However, not wanting to offend anyone, I ate it. For the record, I am still feeling a little ill after that.
At the end of the meal, we were given brown rice tea, which was really tastey! I was amazed by the difference in the general flavours of Japanese cooking in comparison to western cooking. Italian food, being part Italian I can discuss this, is all based on very strong flavours and is generally related to sweet or sour tastes. Japanese food by contrast is much more subtle and the flavours are delicate. Also, their flavours tend to be more earthy and bitter, but not in a bad way!
Overall, it was not a bad experience! I really enjoyed it! And the people were really kind and generous! We all had a fantastic time and finished the evening off with a Japanese memory game with cards with pictures of fish, that are placed face-down. We then left, after exchanging our slippers, which I had grown very fond of, for our own shoes.
In a completely unrelated story, I had my first early-morning gym session today! I decided to try and do my gymming in the morning instead of the evening which is what I've been doing up until now in an effort to make my life more structured. It was a little odd waking up before the sun, but overall it wasn't as bad as I had been expecting! AND, the only part of me that hurts is my stomach from the sit-ups! And my neck, but that was from sleeping funny...