| fieldwork || observations || week 5 ||

07|09|2011 § Leave a comment

|| observations || week 5 ||

:: 鍋 Nabe ::
071011 | 星野村

 I was invited for dinner at Yukiko and Tsuneo’s place. A real treat, as people, in Japan, sometimes have to avoid having guests around due to the confinement of space in their compact houses. They said it was going to be a simple meal, but very typical. Nabe, it was. A delicious hot pot to warm us up in this transition of seasons. Apparently, nabe (hot pot) pots are often given as wedding presents to the brooms, so there was a collection of all different sizes and shapes nabe pots carefully stored away in a cupboard apart from the one we actually used.  Clay ones (土鍋, donabe) are the most traditional and originate from Jomon times. It was a simple, but certainly tasty (oishii) meal. The water was previously boiled with kombu and only then transferred to the actual hot pot pan where it kept being heated up whilst the different ingredients were added. No other sauces were added to the soup, but a vast variety of vegetables, fish and shirataki (konnyaku made in noodle form). We ate from little bowls that had been filled with soy sauce and grated daikon. At the end, cooked rice was added to the soup where it was left for some minutes to soak up the flavour of all the cooked ingredients.
At the end, we were all rather full, but certainly very satisfied. There are many hotpot recipes one can try. When I got home I looked some up online and came across two good websites (1, 2) where one can find some of those recipes to try at home.

i* おいしい鍋

:: 屋台のゲットー Yatai ghetto ::
071011 | 星野村

One always wonders were the 屋台 that don’t stay in their active spot go to during the day…. Places that boost with delicious smells and the buzzing noise of people chitchatting become totally empty during the day.

As I was walking to the restaurant where I was about to spend three hours having a meal, I came across a parking lot completely full of 屋台! The mystery was solved. There must be plenty of parking lots around the city where 屋台 get together during the day for a quiet rest to save up energy for the long evenings of non-stop activity.

i* 屋台のゲットー

:: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 … … … ::
071011 | 星野村

I was told lunch would start at 11.30am and would take a while, probably around three hours, from start to finish. I wondered how four people could take so long to have lunch, but not only it was possible, but it certainly didn’t feel at all like three hours had passed.

We went for lunch at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Fukuoka where normally only unoccupied ladies go during the day, and businessman go in the evening. A fairly new building that followed the traditional style in every detail imaginable. To match the attention to detail in its architecture was the attention to detail in the service, where gentleness, kindness and discretion did not lack at any time. We were taken to our own dining room where the table was low, the floor raised, and the smell of the tatami gave a feeling of comfort and homeliness to that minimal space. We had a view to the river and our own garden to admire whilst enjoying the numerous dishes that were served during those three hours. One after the other, seasonal dishes were served in seasonal tableware that celebrated the autumn and the moon festivities. Small portions carefully arranged on the plates, and carefully placed on the almost circular lacquered trays, displayed a combination of the five essential colours all dishes should have: white, black, green, red and yellow. The tastes were sublime, and subtle. I was particularly delighted with a very light soup where a foamy yellow circle (like a full moon) ornamented with some strings of negi (chives) floated inside a lacquered small bowl. The foamy yellow circle was a like a fish soufflé that melted in the mouth and as it was getting dismantled, each piece started dancing in the liquid of the soup. Another delicious treat (they were all delicious, but some certainly stood out) was the grilled mackerel サバ (saba) served on a plate in the shape of a leaf. It was just the perfect amount of food with no other side dish but a roasted small root and a green pepper. Absolutely delicious.

The variety of teas was also remarkable. From a cold flavoursome green tea, to a hot one and at the end, some foamy match accompanied by a very small bean paste 餡 (an) sweat

Whilst we had lunch the owner of the restaurant came seat next to our table and talk to us for a little while about the food and the place. After a while, her mother come around and did exactly the same. Mother and daughter looked incredibly similar, the features, the posture and the voice. The restaurant had passed from one generation to the next and will keep doing so in the future.

It was a remarkable eating experience that I recommend one should have at least once in a life time so that food and space can be contemplated with the time and attention they deserve.

i* 空き容量

i* 食べ物とお茶

::  DIYパラダイス : DIY Paradise  ::
051011 | 星野村

 The rain was harshly falling outside, but we had arranged to go by car on a timber hunting trip. Eishun had contacted different places were we could get free timber off-cuts to start building the table, so we drove around Fukuoka to get some timber from various places. One of the first stops was a DIY store just outside Fukuoka, Handsman. As strange as it might sound, it was the most beautiful DIY shop I had been to. Though slightly tacky, as they tend to be anyway, the first space, with all the flowers was so open and colourful, I immediately started imagining how marvellous the area around the Table can be with so little.

Several shelves with leaflets with instructions on how to build in a DIY style were colourfully arranged in such way that any person who is reluctant to build things by himself would at least be curious to have a look at how to do so.

We got some timber and I also got several packs of Japanese vegetable seeds that I will take home and try to plant. Lets see if Portuguese climate will suit some exciting root vegetables.

i* Because DIY shops can also be beautiful

::  University canteen ::
051011 | 星野村

During our trip we stopped at Kyūshū University, the Design Campus. A beautiful building designed by one of Louis Kahn’s disciples.

We had lunch at the school canteen where ladies with ‘shower caps’ vigorously turned the udon noodles around enormous saucepans. Even there the food was good, though the canteen room was rather old fashioned and not terribly welcoming.

i* Vigorouly stiring

::  Downstairs neighbours   ::
041011 | 星野村

The morning I arrived at Konya for the first time, I was perplexed to encounter several flower pots full of basil on a little courtyard on the ground floor. I was certain Japanese didn’t use basil in their cooking, so I was astonished on how international a place I was about to move in to. Well, the ground floor of Konya’s building is an Italian restaurant, Kasa, owned by a Japanese couple who have never been to Italy. Quite an interesting concept… to establish a restaurant of a type of cuisine whose country of origin one has never been to.

We had some starters and a main dish. It was all rather tasty and it was the first time I had some olive oil since I got here, so the familiarity of the smells and herbs generated an incredible feeling of nostalgia. The wine was certainly what I enjoyed the most, a full-bodied dry white wine from Sicily. That I certainly miss from back home, a good glass of wine. One of the starters was fugu’s tempura ふぐ天ぷら (blowfish tempura). Certainly not very Italian, but incredibly delicious. The restaurant owners are a lovely couple. Every evening we greet each other with a nod as I pass by the always crowded little sophisticated Italian restaurant in my building. I never imagined I was going to be this close to Europe.

i* Stuffed courgettes drizzled witg olive oil

::  Post dinner snack at a Yatai   ::
041011 | 星野村

 I finally got to have a full Yatai experience, with shōchū, oden and ramen. As we had just finished dinner, it was more like a treat then a real meal, but was enough to get a feeling of how it is to seat around a thin table, eating next to people we don’t know in a friendly environment on an outdoors/indoors environment. Though Yatai are placed on the streets, the noren pieces help creating a cosy environment around a table. The food was tasty and filling, a good culmination of the light dinner we had at Kasa.

i* Oden | shōchū | oden

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