Picnic in Ginza

Today I took the group to buy packed lunch on the upmarket food floor of the Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza.  It`s a strange place, more art gallery than supermarket.  Normal food rules don`t seem to apply.  Apples the size of grapefruits are wrapped and priced like diamonds.

At the eel counter, I found kimoyaki (eelgut) on a stick.  My mind went back to episode 4 of U:  The Mistaken Fierce Fight over Grilled Eelgut, when Shotaro turned nasty after missing out on the last stick of eelgut.  It all got a bit unsavoury and he ended up wishing gout on another customer.

Anyway, the kimoyaki was salty and chewy,  The sachet of sansho and sweet tare neutralised any odours and eel`s unique flavour shone through – this was not any old animal gut.  But at 350yen it wasn`t cheap or filling.  I won`t be queuing to get it again – on the endangered list or not.

I felt foolish buying it in the end.  I need a rest from eel.  Shotaro is in my head now.  I have started to hear his voice.  Perhaps I should limit myself to one episode a week.  There is so much more depth to Japanese food.

So I also bought a salad.  Not just any old of salad though, but gobo sarada, the king of salads, a clear plastic carton packed with tofu, lettuce, nut, sweet dressing and heaps of shaved gobo (burdock).

Brave burdock, the most underrated food in Japan, bitter with a comforting earthy taste, the real ale of root vegetables, a bamboo sword plunged deep into the earth, firm, dependable, a root vegetable to rely on.  On some of the shavings you can still see the soilmarks, the scars of war.  Burdock has stories to tell.  Somebody should make a manga about it.

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