Friday, September 11, 2009

Dishing up Lunch

The rice. It comes in metal containers packed into a box. The two kids who brought the box down have to put one on each lunch tray.

A peek inside the rice box. They have rice with nearly every meal, sometimes they have noodles or bread instead. Rice is the staple of the Japanese diet and is considered to be very nutritious and very culturally significant.

The main course, beef stew. However, in the Japanese language, the rice is described as the 'main' and all other food as 'side-dishes'. This particular stew has beef, carrots, onions, peas, potatoes and a kind of clear noodles in it.

The dished-up stew is in the background, and in the front, two more kids are dishing up the fish. Japanese eat a lot of fish. This one has been simmered in a broth flavoured with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin (sweet cooking sake or rice wine). The fish still has the bones in it, and kids are supposed to eat around them and know which ones can be crunched and which ones have to be spit out.

To eat lunch, the children bring their own chopsticks to school. During the day they are kept in a bag like this, hanging off a hook on the side of their desk. The bag contains a lunch mat and a box that holds the chopsticks. To Japanese, sharing chopsticks is a bit like sharing a toothbrush. They prefer to use their own.

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