Sappari, sakura and grapefruit juggling

I went for lunch at Mori cafe again on Thursday.  It was a sweaty humid day, I had little appetite.  So just this once, I resisted the sweet temptation of banana pound cake.  I ordered pork and thick-cut bamboo shoot with udon noodles all fried in a plum sauce. 

This fried udon noodle dish looks vaguely like the one I had. Simply take away the cabbage, carrot and enoki mushrooms and add bamboo shoot and plum.

The chef, Erika, described it as a sappari dish – light, plain and refreshing;  Sappari food is everything that English food isn`t (heavy with strong flavours, eg., pasty, pie and beans).  While the noodles had a simple flavour, it wasn`t dull.  It was so nice, I virtually drunk it off the plate and did not feel sleepy after, like I do after a tin of beans and a Ginsters pasty.   

After the sappari lunch, I went to the Laputa cinema to see Noraneko, Stray Cats.  It was not an easy film to follow: there were lots of working-class men speaking Japanese (hard to understand), they were all from strong-accent Osaka (even harder to understand), the film is over 50 years old (I was grateful the chairs were comfy). 

Laputa Cinema, by Asagaya station on the JR Chuo Line.

At least watching the film, I could forget earthquakes, cornish pasty cravings and the squalid state of my bedroom. 

I did pick up some crispy crumbs of obscure knowledge; one day I hope to make them into a pasty.  For know, I`ll just spit you out a couple.

1)  In 1950`s downtown Osaka, people had to be creative to earn a few yen.  Heitaro, the male star of the film, earns cash doing odd-jobs for greasy girl pro-wrestlers, selling stray cats to hospitals and working as a sakura (decoy) for street shogi (Japanese chess) games.

2)  Greasy girl pro-wrestling is a good thing.

And now, I have just returned from a walk down Rokku Broadway in Asakusa; this area used to be the home of Tokyo entertainment.  The best live performers, theatres and cinemas in the country were based in Rokku. 

Now, most of the cinemas and theatres are gone, and what`s left are seeking a select audience.  Nopan chikan densha (The No Panties Pervert Train) is the lead film at the Shinsekai cinema.

Rokku Broadway: Live entertainment on both sides of the line.

Fortunately live entertainment lives on, in unexpected ways.  Two clowns try to juggle three grapefruits with mixed success.  Two men in the audience are so pissed they clap and whistle at the wrong time.  Then, one of them passes out.  Nobody seems upset by the drunkenness, sordid film titles or even the crap juggling; it`s still a special place to come.          

Thank you for reading Vortnik.

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