Doyo no ushi no hi

Today is Doyo No Ushi No Hi. I asked my wife what “Doyo no ushi no hi” means. She said, “I don’t know.  Let’s check Wikipedia.” And she calls herself Japanese… So we checked Wikipedia. But the article was long and we got bored before we figured it out.

 

Here’s my eel bowl and an Olympic Beer from Asahi. Go For Gold Japan…

Regardless of the meaning, the point of “Doyo no ushi no hi” is: Today is the hottest day (more or less) of the summer so let’s eat eel. Of course you’d eat eel on the hottest day of the year right? Yes, because eel gives you stamina. At least that’s what the Japanese believe. Stamina to endure the brutal humid heat of Japan. Japan summers are like M&Ms that melt in your hand. They are both too hot and they both suck. So that’s why we eat eel.

Lately there’s been a fly in the ointment. The eel are drying up. You might not have heard, but there’s a severe eel shortage in the world. Eel prices are skyrocketing and the long slithery sea snake is getting tougher and tougher for fisherman to land.

Unlike the oceans of the world, eel is so ubiquitous on Doyo no ushi no hi, that even 7-11 stocks it. This morning 7-11 was giving away free samples. Have you ever seen a 7-11 give away free samples of anything? If you’re lucky you might get a free shriveled up hot dog when they don’t sell for four hours. Aside from that I never got anything free from 7-11. So I ate the eel and said thanks. And the woman giving away the samples said you better buy it this year because next year there may not be any eel left.

“No eel?” I shrieked walking out of the store.

“They’re just trying to scare us.” My wife was satisfied by her justification.

But I am not. I am worried. Eel restaurants are closing their doors in record numbers all across Japan (does anyone keep records like that?). Eel is becoming the sort of delicacy that Sushi used to be before they unveiled the technology to deliver it on conveyor belts. How do we protect ourselves from our own future?

Eat eel today. We did.  Two relatively shot eels cost more than twenty bucks. And we had to make the rice ourselves. and the Miso soup….

I wonder if the eel price fluctuations are due to eel market speculation.

Delivery pizza

We got a Domino’s flyer in our mailbox the other day advertising the Brooklyn Classic pizza. If you’ve ever eaten pizza in Japan, you know that Japanese pizza has very little in common with Brooklyn pizza. Japanese pizza is classically adorned with corn, shrimp and squid on a bed of ketchup and a few shavings of Velveeta. Not much difference from Domino’s in the U.S. except for the corn… and squid.

But, influenced by the birthplace of the pizza pie, Japanese pizza in recent years has undergone a renaissance. Forgetting its American diner roots, the Japanese pizza has taken on a decidedly Napolitano flair. Pizza margarita, fungi or quattro formaggi are common now in Italian cafes with espresso machines in the windows. Looks chic, tastes alright, but it don’t take me to Brooklyn.

But there it was, in full color, on the Domino’s ad. The Brooklyn Classic. Our mouths watered at the implications. If the pizza were half what the name advertised, it would be worth the call–and the short term loan needed to pay for it. We ordered. Italian sausage, pepperoni and seasoned ground beef. Then we waited. We checked the doorbell just to make sure it was working, and we waited some more. At last it came. Extra-large Brooklyn classic with a 2 liter bottle of coke. Total cost: 4150 yen. That’s about $55.00 U.S. That’s right $55.00 for a delivery pizza.

We set the box down on the coffee table and tuned on the Japanese Baseball All-Star game. we opened the box slowly so as not to let the heat out–anticipating what East Coast delight might await in side.  Simultaneously, I braced myself for disappointment. But the pizza looked like a pizza! A real pizza! Sure it looked more Domino’s than Howard Beach, but it was real pizza. No corn, no squid.

I took the first bite. Not bad. Not classic Brooklyn, but not Naples either. And certainly not Tokyo. The sauce was tomato sauce, The spices spicy, and the cheese was likely once a dairy product.  The Coke sucked though. Coke always sucks in Japan.

Heart in!

I was shocked to learn that the convenience store chain “Heart In” actually has a “heart” in each shop. I wouldn’t have known had it not been for the sign’s proud admission. Is it legal to have hearts in convenience stores? Is it sanitary? Is it necessary? Is it stored in a double-zip ziplock bag? These are questions that need to be asked. People must stand up and let their voices be heard. No nukes! No taxation without representation! No more hearts in convenience stores! Don’t give up. This isn’t Valentine’s Day. This is for real! Yeah, it was a slow news day…

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