I am not an adventurous eater – in fact, most people would call me picky. I know what I like and I like what I know. That changed a bit with my move to Japan. I was constantly challenged to eat something I wasn’t familiar with or go hungry.
Prior to my move, I would usually just eat the same things over and over again, and when I was on vacation I ate whatever I wanted (healthy or not) – this usually meant lots of pastries.
So why do I take photos of some of my dishes while I travel? Usually because I am excited I am actually trying something new or eating something that I deem awesome. The following are some of those photos.
I fondly call this photo “Anticipation.” Here’s AD, my Phish partner in crime. We’re in NYC the morning of the Jones Beach Phish show and we’ve decided to have cupcakes for breakfast. How could we pass up these cupcakes when they are so amazing?!
This was my lunch one day at work. I wasn’t on vacation, or trying a new dish – but I was trying something new: I was quitting smoking. I was wearing the patch and eating candy – I called it the ‘candy method’ of quitting smoking. This was two and a half years ago and I’m still smoke free. I gained a ton of weight, but I can’t grow a new lung so it was worth it!
What you can’t see from this photo is that these barrels are full of live crabs. Maryland is known for crabs and so for the 4th of July we got a couple of barrels and had a crab feast. My car stunk of seafood and the little critters were making all kinds of unsettling noise, but they were worth the hassle once we had them cooked!
Here I am at Jumbo Slice in Adams Morgan in Washington D.C. Jumbo Slice was featured on the Food Network and after participating in the Great Urban Race which partly took place in Adams Morgan, CJ and I were hungry and ready for some pizza. I was amazed that this slice of pizza was bigger than my head!
This is a simple pumpkin pie – but this pumpkin pie is in Japan. A group of us expats got together with some locals and had a Japanese version of Thanksgiving. Someone found little chickens that resembled turkeys and pumpkin pie at a Costco in Japan. The rest of us made “American” side dishes and got together to celebrate. What I wish I had a picture of is an AH-MAZING sweet potato casserole SS made – it was delicious and I didn’t want to share it!
Paella – mmmmmm…. When I visited Spain a couple of years ago I ate Paella in almost all of the cities I visited. It’s now one of my favorite foods. This photo was actually taken in Japan – I found a couple of Spanish restaurants when I was in Japan and regularly went there for Paella.
I am not a huge McDonald’s fan -but when I moved to Japan, McDonald’s was one of the few things that tasted American. I would have other Western food while in Japan, but it was usually pretty gross, or just “ok” at best. McDonald’s in Japan tastes the same as McDonald’s in America!
This is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a market in Barcelona, Spain. It was such an amazing market, offering all kinds of local foods. It was one of the best food markets I’ve visited abroad.
Ramen – by far my FAVORITE food in Japan. I was notorious for always wanting ramen when we’d go out as a group in Japan. I loved the soup and the optional sides: gyoza and fried rice. It was nothing like the Ramen you find in hard blocks at the grocery store in America – ugh!
Japanese curry and rice with fried chicken – this was the last meal I ate prior to beginning my hike up Mt. Fuji. I learned to love Japanese curry while in Japan because it was cheap and it was everywhere – CoCo Ichiban was like the McDonald’s of Japan – it was on every corner. I don’t like Indian curry, so there is obviously something different about Japanese curry to make me like it so much.. although I don’t know what!
Japan isn’t big on breakfast. You can find many things that Westerners consider breakfast food, but it’s not paired with other breakfast items. For example: omelets are very popular in Japan, omurice is a dish consisting of an omelet stuffed with rice, often with ketchup on top. Pancakes and waffles are everywhere but they are considered desert. The same goes for French toast: it’s a desert. I only found French toast at one place: Royal Host . Royal Host was kind of like a diner with a mixture of Japanese and Western dishes on their menu. They served French toast as desert. I, of course, didn’t eat it as desert, and would order three pieces of it. Each piece would come out on a separate plate and often the server would look at me funny, but I didn’t care!
This is a scallop in its natural shell. As I was leaving the Sandanbeki Caves in Shirahama, Japan, I passed a number of food stalls serving fresh, local foods. While in Japan I ate scallops regularly since sea food is in abundance and it is usually very fresh (and tasty!). What I didn’t realize was what a scallop looked like before it made it to the grocery store. This photo is of a cooked scallop served on its sea shell. I never knew that the famous fan-shaped sea shells are scallops!
I spent a year and a half in Japan searching for good Italian food. I couldn’t find anything that even resembled decent until the last month I was there. Some friends and I stumbled upon an Italian restaurant in Harborland in Kobe. Although I can’t recall the name of the restaurant, they had Europeans in the kitchen, white table cloths and NO CHOPSTICKS! My friend SS had the best risotto I’ve ever had – even better than the risotto I had in Italy! It was excellent. I am still chasing this dish!
My last weekend in Japan some friends and I went out for Yakiniku, which literally means “grilled meat.” It’s closely related to Korean BBQ, which I had eaten at Honey Pig, although I have to say that I enjoyed Yakiniku waaaay more. We cooked our own meal, which in a way reminded me of fondue. In Japan there are many types of “all-you-can___,” whether its “all-you-can-drink,” or “all-you-can-eat” depends on where you’ve chosen to eat. At this particular restaurant we got all-you-can-eat for 90 minutes, so I got to try all different kinds of dishes. It was a great way for me to try many things without wasting money!
While living in Japan, I was exposed to all different kinds of sushi, all very fresh, and from what I’ve been told, very good. No matter how much sushi I ate, I just didn’t like it. I kept trying, and some kinds I could tolerate, but overall I just don’t like it! It’s so trendy in America, and I constantly found myself in sushi restaurants prior to moving to Japan, but I just don’t enjoy it! This photo is of sushi on plates at a conveyor belt sushi joint called Sushiro. Each sushi roll or sashimi cost around 105 yen – with some items being a little more. The food was on color coded plates and you just picked them up off the conveyor belt. There was also a menu that you could order from and it would come out on the conveyor belt with your order number attached to it. Yet again, this was a great way for me to taste many different kinds of sushi without wasting money – and it was such a unique way to dine!
Ahhhh – Sprinkels! Yum! Sprinkles is a cupcake bakery based in Dallas, TX which specializes in gourmet cupcakes. There are unique flavors like Chai Tea, Pumpkin and S’mores. Gourmet translates into expensive, but they are soooo worth it! Sprinkles has become so popular that they have recently installed a cupcake ATM at store in Dallas. (If you don’t believe it, check it out here!)
So while I often roll my eyes over other people’s food photos on the internet, I am definitely guilty of food porn. I post it more when I’m traveling than in everyday life, but sometimes I come across a special dish or desert and it just deserves a picture!