We’re back to the cafeteria with more posters and more manners to follow!
A Week Changes A Lot
So, I’ve mentioned before about the construction going on at our school. Well, if you remember last week’s entry where we could enter the cafeteria from some unknown inside-building location, that same place is now under construction. We gotta walk through the cold outside. It’s nothing like Buffalo, but, it’s cold.
Walk from our makeshift hallway…
…veer to the right…
…go down some steps…
…veer to the left…
…admire the mountain in the background…
…avoid the barricades…
…put on new shoes…
…go to the right…
…and we’re back!
The majority of today’s posters deal with Japanese food etiquette. Like anything, proper eating is taught to people while they’re young, before they really question it. But that also means that it’s taught. And man, some of these kids need teaching!
Japanese Food Culture
To begin, we have some messages from the school nutritionist. Every day she writes out one of these messages. As I’ve never attended both the elementary school lunches and junior high school lunches on the same day, I don’t know if these messages are aimed specifically at the elementary students or if they’re the same everywhere. In any case, let’s look at what she says.
Today’s lunch? Chicken rice. Some kind of fried fish. Sauteed vegetables / wieners. Macaroni soup. Milk.
Remember last week’s food train? Before lunch, a student always reads the above, giving students a quiz of sorts. Which family do carrots and potatoes belong to? They give energy, so, yellow!
Also worth nothing: they list out the name of the farmer who grew the potatoes and carrots. Respect. A lot of the kids (especially in the middle school) shout out “よし！” after the farmer’s name is read off. We’re a farming town. Deal with it.
No quiz today. Just a comment about how cold it was this morning and how quickly the weather is changing. Standard fare. Oh, and that the food preparation center made the food individually with much love.
The food came from two farmers and a farming association we have in town (元気野菜の会).
Lots of things in the food today. Potatoes, carrots, daikon radish, Chinese cabbage, onions, and apples. And not just any apples, 王林 apples. Not sure if they even have an English name. Born in Fukushima, they are. They’re special traits: their strong sweetness and fragrance. Gotta be thankful for that.
A grammar point if you’re studying Japanese: you’ll notice how the list of items being long has only one と in it in spite of being an exhaustive list. If you have a long list, you only really need one separating the whole list. As you can see with the next entry, you may include と between all items, but usually it’s limited to 2 or 3 items. In the middle, she also includes に in the list, which functions identically to と, in this case just reminding us that we’re in the middle of the list, or perhaps used as に can be used to signify that two items are specially connected, specifically the だいこん and はくさい in this case, much like ロメオにジュリエット means “Romeo and Juliet”.
Cheesecake! Handmade by the nutritionist herself. They tasted really good actually. I already ate four…
Anyways, that’s the gist of these things.
As you can see, the messages are aimed to teach students about “food culture” in Japan and a lot of the customs surrounding food as well as simple messages about the weather. Messages have included things like why this food is important (a festival is coming up) and how long it takes for the food to get to the plate (a long time). A friend of mine who’s dating a school nutritionist had an argument with her about whether or not this same kind of food education exists in other countries, the nutritionist arguing that Japan was unique in this. Though we both disagreed with her assessment in Japan’s exceptionality, the takeaway is that Japan does view its food culture very seriously and the school nutritionists take their job earnestly as a food teacher of sorts.
Ah, on that note, here’s the menu for the month!
And here’s the menu from two months ago, when I conceived this project:
Things worth noting:
-On the left, the number is of the table who gets first chance at seconds. It then goes to the next table until it gets back to the start.
-Which category each food is in, just proving that all categories are provided for.
-On the right, the calories, followed by the protein, fat, and salt content.
-Every Wednesday is bread day. It’s a relic of post-World War II occupation.
Japanese Food Etiquette
As a foreigner coming to Japan, you’re bound to make a few flagrant food faux pas. Take solace in knowing that pretty much every Japanese person made these same mistakes too in their youth. I’ve seen it first-hand. Yes, even sticking chopsticks in your rice. Yeah, I know. It shocked me too.
Thankfully, when the kids do it, we can point them to an illustrated poster illustrating just how much of a failure they are.
I’ll be honest, aside from this Pikachu-look-alike looking like a self-righteous prick, he’s doing everything right. Sitting straight. Never forgetting to be thankful. Not bothering anyone else. Holding his bowl correctly. This is the example.
She’s right. “Lunch time is also a time to learn manners. The reason to improve your manners is to have a smooth time eating and to not make the people around you have bad thoughts. Let’s follow the manners and have a fun lunch time.” I’m just not sure why she’s screaming this.
Also, remember the food manners from last time? Well, we got a new one!
Let’s hold our tableware while eating. Definitely a Japanese thing. Bringing food to your mouth. Just like that Pikachu from earlier.
Did I mention that everyone brushes their teeth after a meal? Well, they do. And there’s some nice posters to help them along.
That’s All Folks
And that’s all for the lunch room. Join us sometime in the future for some classrooms and student projects.
Bonus (read: I’m tired, so here’s everything else, without commentary)
Eat your breakfast, kids!
There is a correct way of arranging your food. It should look like the one below.