A Tribute to Travel, Food and Cats: Volume 1

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When I ordered naan and rice, the waiter said, “Are you sure? It’s huge!!!” I also ate it for lunch the next day.

While I have been thinking and thinking about the amazing food I gorged on in Asia this summer, I’ve also been thinking a lot about all the street cats I saw and how very few cats I see these days. Of course my response is to try to cook the food that I ate, so last night I made naan. Although naan isn’t by any means considered a Japanese dish, I did eat a gigantic piece of naan in an Indian restaurant in Hiroshima this summer. Normally I would feel bad about not eating Japanese food, but it was late and I was too tired to wander around looking for normal veg cuisine after I had left Korea in a rush the Sunday after I finished

Here's a handsome fella I came across in Kyoto.
Here’s a handsome fella I came across in Kyoto.

work. As the story goes, I had spent too much time out with friends on Saturday night, packed quickly, and didn’t bring any snacks for my journey. I took a 4 hour bus to drop Chai off at his petsitter, an airport bus from there, and rushed to Incheon because I had had a near miss with my flight a few weeks before and didn’t want to take any chances. I then flew from Seoul to Fukuoka (probably a 1.5 hour flight), immediately got on a train to Hiroshima, and wandered around to find my hostel. I don’t remember eating anything during this journey, so needless to say, I was starving by the time I reached my destination. Also, I knew vegetarianism is a foreign concept in Japan, so I didn’t want to bother.

Last night I decided I wanted to make homemade naan; after all, I did have all of the ingredients. It turns out it is very easy and is much more delicious than anything Trader Joe makes. Now that I’m revisiting the Japanese naan, I think I will for sure bake it next time and add garlic and green onions.

Ingredients:

  •        1 tsp of yeast (or use a whole packet like I did)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • oil for frying
  • butter for covering

First, combine the yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. You’ll be able to tell it is ready by the froth on the top. Meanwhile mix all of the dry ingredients. Next, add yogurt and oil to the yeast mixture. Once combined, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Knead the dough together until it is sticky, then cover and allow to rise for 2-4 hours.

After rising, heat oil in a large pan. Roll the dough out (it will be very sticky, so be sure to have extra flour and water). Divide into 5 or 6 pieces,

roll flat and plop it into the oil. You should be able to tell when it’s done! Add butter, garlic or whatever and enjoy!

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Me with my noodles.

 

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Now, as far as being vegetarian in Japan goes, I didn’t have it too badly. I mainly existed on cheese and tomato sandwiches with ingredients I purchased at 7-11. I was also very lucky to stay with a couchsurfer who happened to be vegetarian and who served me delicious tempura vegetables.

Many of my students in Korea warned me about how

You must put your ramen in the approved bag before leaving the Instant Ramen Museum.
You must put your ramen in the approved bag before leaving the Instant Ramen Museum.

dangerous Japan was, and how I shouldn’t eat any of the vegetables. I did eat the fruit and vegetables and I haven’t noticed any particular side-effects.

During one of my adventures, I came across the Instant Ramen Noodle Museum. I went through the process, made veggie ramen, and packed it to bring home. It was not in my backpack when I arrived home, so I believe some hungry customs person stole it. Let this be a warning to anyone traveling through Osaka: Keep your ramen in the airport approved baggie.

 

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