Okashi: 2 – And Groceries!

Do you remember that post I did way back in the beginning of my Japan adventure called “Okashi”?  Well, here is the next one, as promised.  I went grocery shopping recently and decided to show you everything I bought, in addition to the few okashi pictures I had been saving up.  Some of these things are very normal, but I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons:
1. I thought you might enjoy seeing what I eat, since it has something to do with my current life.
2. Before I got here, as well as during the beginning of my stay, I was trying very hard to figure out how to go grocery shopping, because half of the things in grocery stores here are things I don’t know much about and don’t recognize, and the things that I would recognize are packaged differently than I am used to and are titled in Japanese anyway.  So, I hope if someone who is having the same problem I was stumbles across this, they will find it useful.
3. Another problem I had during this time was how to budget my food money, since things here cost different amounts than they do in California.  So, for what I can remember I will try to add prices to these things, to give a general idea of how much food costs.
4. I have a different diet here than I did back in America, and I want to assure everyone who I love that I’m not eating only okashi, but lots of vegetables, too!
5. I may start posting about meals, so this would have something to do with that, but don’t hold me to that as a promise.  How to make meals with what I can find for reasonable prices in Japan is a learning process, but after a few months I’ve started to figure out how to eat here.
So, let’s get on with it!  I’m going to start off with the snacks that I had gotten at various times that didn’t come from my grocery shopping.

This is one of my favorite things to buy.  It is chocolate chip melon bread.  Melon bread is very popular here, but many people would agree that it isn’t really anything special.  It doesn’t taste like melon and it doesn’t really succeed in looking like one, either, so it’s really just a sweetened white bread.  However, I am not very good at waking up in the morning, so often times I walk through the cafeteria on my way to my first class and grab something to eat quickly as breakfast.  This and a banana is my common choice.  There is something about the chocolate chips in it that really make it better.   I’m not going to say that it is a fantastic snack, because it really isn’t too special, but I eat it quite often and I do enjoy it so it was worth noting.

This is anman, a sweet fluffy, doughy pouch filled with sweet red bean paste.  Red bean paste is a common filling and flavor for Japanese snacks, and I generally don’t like it because it is so incredibly sweet.  However, this little dumpling has the perfect ratio of dough to keep down the sweetness, and something about a fresh, warm, steamed anman can force me to get on my bike at 11:00 at night when it’s raining outside just to go buy one.  Something about the dough’s texture is amazing, too: it is fluffy but has just the right amount of chewy doughiness.  I will miss these dearly when I go back to America.

You can buy these pretty much anywhere.  These are the two main brands of fruity flavored sour gummies, and I love them.  The usual flavors include grape, lemon/lime, peach, grapefruit, and ramune (a Japanese soda).  The Fettuccine ones are a lot of fun to eat because of the shape, and it’s nice to have some of these with you if you’ll be on a train for a long time.

Rice cakes covered in some sort of delicious powdery coating.  I don’t even know what they are, but if you ever see them, eat them!

In my first “Okashi” I showed you the chocolate version of these cookies.  These ones are green tea flavored.

These are potato chips that have vegetable flavoring.  There are other flavorings available, but I wasn’t a big enough fan of these to bother trying the others.  They don’t have a whole lot of taste and they are incredibly hard and crunchy.

These are little flaky cookie biscuit things with creamy filling inside that I think is supposed to taste like ice cream, but doesn’t.  They aren’t all that fantastic, but not bad.
These I did get during my grocery trip, but mainly because they seem to be a fall-only snack and they looked pretty good.  They are sweet potato chips and are indeed yummy.  Japan has a thing for sweet potatoes around fall, apparently, because as soon as fall hit, they suddenly started selling freshly roasted whole sweet potatoes EVERYWHERE, as well as sweet potato flavored various things.

Okay, now on to my groceries!

I have given up on trying to cook chicken and beef in any creative way, so I rely on eggs and tuna to be my main protein source.  Also, I love eggs, a lot.  188 yen.

I like to make smoothies and bananas are good on-the-go foods.  You can buy them at the 100 yen Lawson (a store where everything is 105 yen), but these from the grocery store are a bit larger and were 199 yen.

Red peppers!  For various meals made in the frying pan and for salads.  I think they were about 100 yen each.

Eggplant!  299 yen for a pack of 5 small ones.

Bread.  All sandwich bread is exactly like this.  You can get 2, 4, 6, or 8 slices.  The 6 and 8 slices are the same amount of bread and therefore the same price, it just depends on how thick you want it.  I find even the 8 slice loaves to be too thick, so I stick with 8.  85 yen (but that was a cheap find; a loaf will generally be around 115 yen unless you go to 100 Lawson).

Carrots!  29 yen each.

A ready mix of vegetables for a stir fry, salad, or rice topping.  98 yen.

Half a head of cabbage.  I thought it was lettuce, but when I started eating my salad I learned two things: 1. cabbage is not lettuce, 2. cabbage is good in salads.  139 yen.

This is a strange and delicious vegetable called renkon.  It has the consistency of a hard potato and tastes like yum.  230 yen.

Granola.  It is expensive here, but so are all of the other cereals, and sometimes you just need a quickly made meal like this in the house.  378 yen.

Pineapple!  Pineapple is probably my favorite fruit, so I like to buy  it whenever I find it for a decent price.  I bought one to eat and one to freeze for later.  399 yen each.

This is what we use for butter here.  They don’t really use butter or margarine, but rather this I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter type spread.  It works so I am okay with it.  198 yen.

A cream soup or pasta base.  138 yen.

Onions.  19 yen each.

Bacon.  This is my special treat source of protein.  You can buy it pre-sliced, but it was cheaper this way, so I figured I could cut it into pieces later.  217 yen.

An asian pear.  They are a cross between a pear and an apple.  Pears and apples are both pretty boring fruits in my opinion, but when they make babies, it’s golden.  I love these to death.  105 each at 100 Lawson.

Barley tea.  I don’t think we really have this stuff in America, and I don’t know why, because it rules my life with delicious.  This box of I believe 16 tea bags is 105 yen.  Each tea bag can be soaked in 2 or more liters of water and make days worth of tea.  I recently bought a 2.2 liter jug thing solely for my precious barley tea.  Its only downfall is that it naturally isn’t caffeinated, but that could also be a good thing.

Tuna.  My precious.  Unfortunately Japan sells it in oil instead of water most of the time.  5 cans for 498 yen.

So, that is everything I bought on my last shopping trip, but it should be kept in mind that I also keep these things stocked regularly (I just didn’t need them at the time I bought this stuff):
Milk – I buy a specific kind from the 100 Lawson because it is only 105 yen and it is exactly 1%, which is rare in Japan because they have strange milk percentages, such as .7%, 2.3%, 5.5%, etc.  I only drink 1% in America, and even though no milk in Japan tastes like the 1% I am used to, I like to stick with what is closest.
Mayonnaise – a must in Japan.  Period.
Ketchup – I already said I like eggs.
Rice – Again, remember the part about me being in Japan?
Fruits of sorts – I like making smoothies.
Soy sauce and honey – I’m in Japan, you guys!  We eat stuff with soy sauce!  And honey goes in tea; NOT sugar.  Also, when put together in a pan with a bit of butter you can make a delicious base for most frying pan dishes.
Spaghetti and spaghetti topping mixes – Because it’s easy to make and delicious.
Sea weed – I’m sure by now you are aware of where I currently live.
Miso soup paste – I actually haven’t used any yet, but it stays good for about a year and it can be used in a lot of ways, so it’s good to have just in case.
And other various snacks and foods that are less of staples.
So, mom, yes, I am eating, I promise!  Dad, I’m learning to cook, and I promise to bring back some things for you to try, and also to make okonomiyaki with you again.  Sean, if you didn’t have the upper hand with the cheddar cheese I’d say I was eating better than you.  Everyone else, if you get the chance to eat Japanese food (and I’m not talking about sushi, tempura, or teriyaki), do it!