Friday, September 27, 2013

Fire flavored latte menu

Today I tried a drink called "Sunny Orange Latte" from the "Cafe Deli" line of products by the brand "Fire". Combining coffee and orange juice sounds like a bad idea, but it was actually quite good.

The bottle says: "Cafe Deli", "Fire Flavored Latte Menu", "Sunny Orange Latte", "A marriage of flavor and quality espresso - a delectable latte you'll truly enjoy", which is an impressive amount of English to write without errors (here in Japan).


We had a big meeting and I had to stay late (until 4 a.m.) the day before and arrive early (8 a.m.) to hold my presentation (the first presentation of the day) to some important politicians that may or may not fund our research next year. After the whole meeting was over (19:00) there was an "after party" with nice food (that you had to pay for yourself at a fairly expensive price, but still), though!

Blueberry grapefruit black vinegar drink

Spelling avocado without os

On the English menu we got, there was something called "avacad". In Japanese, an "o" at the end of a word is often silent, but missing both the "o"s in avocado is impressive. They also had fairly creative spelling of some other words, like "chocorate".

Fish and desserts

Tofu and raw egg salad

Sanma sashimi (it is now sanma season, as can be guessed by the Japanese name, 秋刀魚, which is written with "autumn katana fish".
I went out to dinner with my two visiting Swedish friends. First we went to a fish restaurant which is very nice, and then we went looking for desserts. We found a nice looking place that served "Jonas cake" (or "younashi tart").

Potato salad and ham, inside a shredded potato wrapping

Hatahata ("sailfin sandfish"?) with miso

Strawberries run through a mixer

Sauteed banana

"Jonas cake"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Greek chocolate

My Greek colleague that was here a few years but went back to Greece by the end of the winter has now come back to Sapporo. He finished his Ph.D. in Crete, and will now work in our lab for a while. He brought Greek chocolate, which was dangerously delicious.

Milk tea: off mode

Our coop has a new product called "Milk tea off mode". This probably refers to the "Calorie off" (low Calorie) part, but still sounds a bit strange.

I love Hokkaido playing cards and hiragana playing cards

I found and bought a deck of "I love Hokkaido" playing cards yesterday. They had Hokkaido dialect expressions printed on each card (and the clubs had a map of Hokkaido instead of the normal club mark). I showed these to some of my Hokkaido born friends, and they became very excited. They were fascinated by some words being dialectal (that they thought were "standard" Japanese), said that some expressions were not used by anyone they know, and laughed about some expressions that they use a lot.

I also got a bag full of hiragana playing card. A magician friend had just come back from Hakodate, where he apparently bought every deck of hiragana cards he found, just to give them to me. This is great, since I have not seen these in the shops in Sapporo lately, and I use up a lot of these decks when doing magic.

Scandinavian sweets in Japan?

The Japanese image of Scandinavia apparently includes a lot of owls.

A few years ago when my Swedish friends were in Sapporo, we visited a place called Tapio. They were there a few weeks ago again, and yesterday we dropped by all three of us again. They wondered if the staff would recognize them from a few weeks ago. When we entered, one guy came up and said very loudly: "Ah! Jonas!"... I know him from another place he used to work, though I did not know that he know works at Tapio. He did however also remember the other two.

"Scandinavian" waffles
Tapio is named after a Finnish forest god and the whole place is decorated in a Scandinavian way (or what Japanese people think is Scandinavian). There was a lot of wood (which is not so common in Japan, but very common in Sweden), for instance.

They also had "Scandinavian home made waffles" on the menu. These looked very much like Japanese waffles, which are similar to American waffles but not similar at all to Swedish waffles, though. The also had the word "fika" written on the menu. This is a very Swedish thing (there is even a Wikipedia entry about it), and it was used in a more or less correct way.
It is necessary to enjoy oneself over a delicious cake and delicious sake. And, happiness must visit you.

Beer cake, beer chocolate, beer anything!

I visited the souvenir shop of the Sapporo Beer Museum ("Sapporo Beer" is one of the 4 larger beer manufacturers in Japan). They now sell "beer cake", which apparently is "hop step delicious", but sounds disgusting. The also sell beer chocolate, beer jello, beer caramels, and much more.

I bought a pack of beer chocolate. They smelled a lot of beer, and tasted a bit like beer. Not disgusting, but very good. I have tried the beer caramels before, and they taste like I imagine eating yeast would taste like.

Jingisu kan and English

Yesterday I went out for Jingisu kan with my Swedish friends. This is a Sapporo specialty, which is basically barbecued lamb in garlic sauce. You grill your meat and vegetables yourself on an iron plate shaped vaguely like a Mongolian helmet (hence the name, which is Japanese for Genghis Khan).

Frying lamb and vegetables on a helmet shaped thing
They also served "German potatoes" (which is Japanese for "potatoes fried in a frying pan together with onions and bacon") and sauer kraut. It was the first time in a long time I had jingisu kan, so it was a nice meal. We ordered too much, as always.

"German Potatoes"
When I was taking a photo of the German flags, a young Japanese waiter came up to our table and asked (in English): "Can I take a picture of you?" This surprised me a bit, since why would he want a picture of us? Taking a closer look, he also did not have a camera. I figured that he probably meant to ask if we wanted him to take a picture of us with one of our cameras, so I asked him in Japanese if that was what he meant. Indeed it was. We said no to that offer.

He was impressed that we could speak Japanese and asked why. I said that I live in Japan, and he was even more surprised that we came to this restaurant (mainly catering to tourists) despite living in Sapporo.
Not so sour sauer kraut 
They kindly provide you with a stylish apron to wear when slobbing around with the food.
They also provide you with plastic bags to put any clothes you do not want to smell of barbecued lamb in.

Losing hair

When I was walking to our magic bar during the weekend, I noticed that someone had lost a lot of hair near our place.

Toruko raisu

Our student cafeteria had a week where they served "toruko raisu", which is how you would write "Turkish rice" in Japanese. This is a dish from Nagasaki in southern Japan, which consists of Japanese pork "katsu" (from "cutlet", meaning deep fried meat), Japanese curry on rice, and spaghetti, all served on one plate.

This is an interesting dish in that it is called "Turkish rice" but has nothing to do with Turkey. There is no Turkish food similar to this, as far as I have been able to check with my Turkish friends.

The naming actually ended up as Turkish rice by chance. It started out as "tricolor rice" or something along those lines, indicating three colors (three types of food) like in for instance the French flag. This is "torikoro" in Japanese, and since any word that is more than two or three syllables tends to be truncated to just the head of the word in Japanese, this was cut down to "toriko". This sounds like "toruko" (the "u" is mostly silent, and the "i" can be silent too), which also is an actual foreign word used in Japan, so people ended up thinking this is what the dish is called. At least according to my Japanese sources, this is how the very much not Turkish dish ended up being called Turkish rice in Japan.

Jonas wine

When I was eating spicy pizza at a restaurant I often visit, the chef had just made a batch of what he called "洋梨ワイン" ("pear wine"). My name ("Jonas") sounds like "pear" ("younashi") to Japanese people, so when he noticed that all the finished alcohol would not fit into the PET-bottles he had prepared he said that I should drink the stuff that did not fit. So I got some free home made pear liqueur. There was actually quite a lot that did not fit, so he joined me and we had about two classes each.

Swedes visiting Sweden Hills

A rainy but not very hilly part near Sweden Hills

Outside Sapporo there is a place called Sweden Hills, because you are only allowed to put up Swedish looking houses there. I went there with two Swedish friends and we got a lot of Japanese food from our Japanese friends who live there. We also got to see some Swedish culture.

There is a huge "Dalahäst", made in Sweden and shipped to Japan, in a park on top of the Sweden Hills hill.

Swedish looking houses in Japan

They had had a "surströmming" party the day before we got there (so we were lucky in avoiding that!).

The Sweden Hills cultural center has a small library of Swedish books, including the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The library also includes exciting books like the 1976 edition of the Swedish labor laws...

Japanese "nabe", very nice food

Birthday celebrations with Turkish food

Bread and stuff to put on bread
One of my friends had her birthday again, so we went out for dinner together. She had found a Turkish restaurant that she wanted to try, and it turned out to be very nice. They also have belly dancing there a few days per month, but not the day we were there.

We also went to another place looking for cake, but there are few places with cake that are open late enough in the evening. We ended up in a place with pancakes, which we figured was close enough.They turned out to serve huge pancakes with mountains of whipped cream, which was a little bit more to eat than we needed, but it was good.


Meat and potatoes

Lamb and chicken skewers, with onions and rice

Turkish pizza