Saturday, September 06, 2003

Food, Glorious Food
Last night I rediscovered the joy of being back in a country where I can recognize all the items in the grocery store. It was really the first time I had been back in a grocery store in the US for a significant period of time. There were many, many items that I had never seen before. The snack food industry has been rather busy since I've been gone. Did you know there were S'mores Ritz Bits? Wheat Ritzes? Wheat Saltines? Did you know that Kroger carries at least 7 different kinds of hummus? I took Mark up and down almost every single aisle of the store, ostensibly to familiarize myself with the layout, but really just looking for food that caught my fancy. As mentioned, I am not an often inspired cook outside of baking, so my trips to the grocery store tend to use lists "more as a guideline, really." Then I haul all the food back to my house, figure out something to make out of it, and use it until it's gone, at which point I get more. Mark, on the other hand, was somewhat horrified, because in his family, the list is the list, one plans meals ahead of time, and going to the store several times a week is fine. In Japan, I went to the actual grocery store maybe once a month or possibly every two months. Of course, I also eat about 1/4th of what Mark does. It's scary.

The other scary thing is that while snack food manufacturers in the US may be trying to catch up with the Japanese in sheer variety, they're not doing much on the healthy end. A single, (as in one,) fudge-covered Oreo cookie contains 100 calories. An entire box of Pocky contains only slightly more, as I recall. As dear, kind Mr. Kasahara said in class, "Well, I hope you don't get fat when you go back to America."

On the other hand, nowhere in Japan could I get pimento cheese. I had been told I would not be able to get it here in the frozen northern reaches of the United States either, but Kroger had not one, but two (2) kinds of pimento cheese, one kind with jalapeƱos. (Right next to the hummus, no less.) Hooray! I may survive in Michigan after all! What's even better, it's all mine, because I know Mark won't eat it. Mine, all mine.

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