I found myself confuddled recently. I was sitting at my desk, completely committed in delivering whatever was asked of me that day when I heard nature calling. First I stopped and thought – what a most ridiculous phrase – if you are HEARING it calling, its already too late.
Not opting to respond to nature on my office chair, I made my way to the bathroom. In the ladies toilets there are four stalls – perfectly adequate. However, I personally don’t find their construction appropriate – at 5’11 plus heals my head peers over the top of the stall and the bottoms of the dividers and doors are almost a foot off the ground. Shall we say this does not make for a feeling of privacy when the acoustics are in play.
With the 4th stall occupied, I entered the 1st cubicle as the sound of a toilet flushing filled the room. The person who had already broken the theoretical seal left, I heard another colleague enter. To my horror, she quickly got on with business, in STALL NUMBER 2. Yes that’s right, with 3 and 4 open and adequately distant from my personal space, this inconsiderate person took hold in the nearest of loo-spots. The sounds of zipping, rustling, dropping and a running stream were all so close had the sensation of wet accompanied the assault on my ears, I could have sworn this person was indeed sitting upon my lap.
Everyone who knows me (and I suspect those who follow my blog) should have an understanding of my love of Japan and the polite nature of Japanese culture. This toilet issue doesn’t exist in Japan. I am sure they would know the ‘leave the neighbouring loo empty’ rule but if not, stall doors practically brush the floor and despite the somewhat vertically challenged nature of their society, I don’t recall having an issue with the height of them either (although that could be my failing memory). Most importantly however, Japanese toilets come with the comforting sound effects of water running or faux-toilet flushing to mask even the most embarrassing flatulence. Now – when you can’t read the buttons, the toilet flushing sound is going, you can’t figure out how to stop it and the volume has magically increased to compete with a rock band live on stage – it becomes a little silly (or amusing) but at least no one can hear you tinkle.
Now, while we’re on the topic of Japan (not on the topic of toilets or perhaps the need to use them), following is a recipe we tried last week which the Sumo Kitchen blog tells me is a school canteen food. This tastes much more like a ‘normal’ curry than a Japanese curry except for the one critical component – the fried egg. You MUST have the egg, it is what makes the dish.
Eggs are added to so many dishes in Japan it is unbelievable. My favourite egg experience was when we discovered a food-bar in the basement of a building outside our regular train station in Tokyo. When you enter the tiny foyer, you select your meal from a ‘ticket’ vending machine which you then pass on to the waitress as you take your seat at the circular bar. You could imagine my delight when my spaghetti bolognaise was put in front of me. A huge pile of pasta, a tomato based sauce, a meat pattie, bacon, a FRIED EGG and a side of Japanese potato salad. I nearly died. I’m not sure what an Italian would think of this but let me help you out with what I thought – DELICIOUS! You dont believe me do you – we have photographic evidence – who would say no to this?! We love, love, love Japanese food, but this cheap-eats Japanese take on pasta is easily in our top 5. It is also a welcomed break from the fish-undertone in almost every meal you eat while there.
Now, our eggs for whatever reason don’t taste as good but if you’ve not tried a Japanese egg, you’ll never know. So give this one a go. The original recipe can be found here – the pictures are very thorough. We used only beef mince as we didn’t have pork and also found that it cooked a lot quicker than the recipe requires (probably because we make smaller portions). Enjoy.
Dry Japanese Curry
- 150g beef mince
- 150g pork mince
- 2 onions
- 1 green pepper
- 1 carrot
- 2 cloves of garlic – grated
- 5cm ginger – grated
- 4tbs curry powder
- 4tbs kethcup
- 2tbs tonkatsu sauce (or Worcester sauce)
- 1tbs soy sauce
- 300 cc water
- 1 beef or chicken stock cube (2 if using Japanese consommé stock)
- 2tbs white wine
- black pepper
- Fry the grated garlic in oil until it releases a pleasant aroma. Chop the vegetables to roughly the same size. Start frying the mince with the garlic, then add the vegetables when brown.
- Add the curry powder and stir well until well mixed. Then add the wine,water, half a stock cube, ketchup, tonkatsu and soy sauce. Stir well and simmer for 30 mins.
- Add the other half of the stock cube and 1tbs butter. Stir well and simmer for 15-20 mins. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Serve with rice and a fried egg on top as desired.