(I found this picture after I wrote this. It doesn’t exactly fit, but it was too good to resist 🙂 )
Grocery Wars? Is that a new show on A&E? No (at least not yet), I’m talking about preparing to go into battle against a grocery store where you can’t read any of the labels and the food staples in general are very different.
Criteria for Adequate Mission Planning
The Commander: That would be me… a good commander is well-trained and well prepared for the mission at hand, or can fake it with the best of them.
The Sargent: That would be Daniel, ready to advise on UFI (unidentified food items) and create any necessary diversions.
The Mission: Obtain food for at least 3 days.
The Limitations: We will only know as much Japanese as we learn before hand, or write down and bring with us. It is unlikely that any labels will be in English , although limited scouting suggests there are pictures on some packaging. Also the food available will be Japanese of origin, so plan for meals accordingly… I suggest embracing rice.
The Resources: Yen, a notebook full of translated japanese food names and attempts at their kanji.
Step one: The Reconnaissance
Time spent on planning is rarely wasted time… I’ve that much so far, so of course it would extend to this mission as well 🙂 We decided to stay within typical Japanese meals so we aren’t wandering around forever looking for quinoa. Plus Japanese food is so tasty! Our meal ideas: Miso soup, japanese sticky rice, veggies and meat/ fish or tofu for a stir fry, eggs, seaweed sheets and gyoza (amazing japanese dumplings, and anything else that looked exciting in the moment.
Even though all those things seem like we find them by sight, I wrote them all out along with reviewing useful phrases like:
“Excuse me, do you have XYZ”
“Where is it?”
(as a side note – “where is it?” has been an extremely useful phrase. However, “what is it?” is probably the least useful phrase I know… if I don’t know what it is, it’s unlikely I’m going to know what it is in Japanese.)
Step Two: Deploy Operation OM NOM NOM
Upon entering it looks like the usual grocery store… except everything is packaged adorably.
that’s a lot of miso… ummmm…that medium brownish one looks good…
and lastly meat:
WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME!!!!!!! Oh wait that’s Daniel telling me to stop filming…
ekkk we’ve been spotted…just grab any of them, s’move, s’move, s’move!
alrighty: gyoza random exciting treats and rice… 1500 yen ($18)…for rice… are you kidding me, this better be some kind of miracle rice.
To the counter…paying without incident… I think she just asked me how many bags I want… I think she said bags… she’s pointing to bags… “San (3)” ….whew, crisis diverted.
Step Three: Enjoy the spoils of grocery war
It’s Champange, it’s sparkling wine, no it’s Champarkling.
Baby Asahi! (He really takes after his father doesn’t he?)
It really is amazing rice (it might have something to do with the cooker)
Now don’t you all want $18 rice?
When I’m travelling mundane activities like grocery shopping, taking the train or mailing a postcard really do become operations. If you don’t make it fun and a way to learn more of the language and interact with people, it just becomes an overly difficult and frustrating mundane chore. I think I’d rather it be fun 😉