Sep 16, 2010
Thanks for being patient, listeners!
Personally, I like bento with things like sukiyaki (sliced thin beef with a sweet sauce), an absence of spaghetti, and exciting rice (not just white rice). but that’s just me.
isn’t it odd that Karamoon and I didn’t even talk about our favorites in this show?
stay tuned for part 2.
just like a Japanese letter or email, in this one we begin with the Britishness of weather in Tokyo
it’s actually ‘O’bento, because…
the ‘O’ is an honorific prefix to add politeness
it’s not an honorable lunchbox, although it sounds that way
two pronunciations: ‘o’ & ‘goh’: same kanji, but ‘o’ is for words of Japanese origin and ‘goh’ is for words of Chinese origin
because rice is such a central thing in Japan, you usually use it without the honorific prefix
men tend to use the honorific a bit less than women
a woman in Japan might say ‘oniku’, the honorific way to say meat, while a man would just say ‘niku’
English language equivalent honorifics?
Americans have no polite language at all, so there’s that (Ed: ‘I beg your pardon?’)
au contraire, we are very polite!
generally to make language more polite in English, you’d soften what you’re saying
instead of ‘you should do…’ we might say ‘I think you should do…’ or ‘if I were you, I would…’
In Japanese, polite language is much more clearer: you have the honorific prefix; different verb forms.
for example: ‘tabemasu’ is more polite than ‘taberu’ (both mean ‘to eat’)
so, obento are a huge part of Japanese culture
Japanese kids usually take obento to kindergarten and elementary school
in junior high and high school they usually eat at school, but it’s probably a modified bento
there’s formal obento that you get at a restaurant – in those black lacquer boxes
in obento, the food is separated in some way
it’s not a pile of stuff in a box
from the convenience store, there’s always a green piece of plastic signifying, maybe, grass or a leaf; maybe bamboo leaves
like rice balls that are wrapped in a bamboo leaf
in a convenience store, they can be really strange:
* always will have rice, sometimes with sesame seeds sprinkled on
pickles are very important in Japanese food, perhaps for cleansing the palate
when you eat sushi, you’ll have pickled ginger
of course, you can go to dedicated obento shops and get much better quality obentos
* or sometimes there’s a rice ball
* but there also might be a bit of sausage
* a small bit of spaghetti (Ed. this makes no sense to me, but there you are)
* some potato salad
* a fried prawn
* a hamburger
* some pickles
* the pickles are usually pickled daikon, with garish artificial coloring
* tempura obento is a classic one:
but don’t get the ones with shellfish when it’s late
you can get ‘yakiniku’ obentos, which is rice topped with thinly sliced barbecued beef with a little bit of sweet sauce; there’s a big range
you can get ‘ekiben’, obentos sold at shinkansen (bullet train) stations
it’s almost a taboo to eat on short train rides
ekiben is associated with the shinkansen
you’ll be on a train for 2 or 3 hours – for example, Tokyo to Kyoto is about 2 hours
the ‘taboo’ against eating on short train rides seems to be fading away
when non-Japanese talk about taboos, we often misunderstand the situation
they don’t blow their noses in public because they feel embarassed, not because it’s a taboo
a short digression on blowing one’s nose
do not put your make up on in the subway: why
subways are very small – even reading a newspaper, it’s pre-folded
an English person would elbow the next person, look like they’re flying a kite
* vegetables in a light batter
* good shrimp
Terri records the show on her iPhone3G
Tom Toeda of fti studio
mixes the show.
image credit: By alitak888 Alisa Staples
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Next show theme?
We’ll continue with Part 2 of ‘Bento’
This week’s show:
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