After travelling 8½ months in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand, I became acutely aware of meat in a non-grocery store kind of way. As a city girl, I know meat as cellophane packaged items in Safeway or Loblaws. In contrast, we saw meat in all sorts of formats:
scrawny chickens running across the road;
live adult pigs squealing while tied to the back flap of the pickup truck in the back of which passengers are also being transported;
wriggling live fowl tied down to the top of a vehicle transporting people;
cut-up meat and fish in garbage strewn, muddy, dirty markets;
splayed-out rat on a stick;
good-sized bugs on a stick;
hearing a story of how in a restaurant, cat was passed off as chicken in a dish;
watching frogs being chopped up at all joints and fried in a wok with garlic when 5 minutes previous, they were jumping around in a tightly held plastic bag after 2 hours of frog hunting at night.
I have learned that I have trouble going from live animals especially which do not look like they are in healthy condition, to live animals transported in or on top of or on the back of passenger vehicles, to cut-up animals in dirty markets, to pieces of unrecognizable meat on my plate. At some point during our travels, I could no longer eat large pieces of meat, and then later, shunned even small pieces of meat. This was my state upon arrival in Kanazawa, Japan.
In a supermarket in Kanazawa, I began meat therapy. I walked by coolers which held different cellophone-wrapped meats, and consciously intoned that this was a first world setting with which I was familiar. Meat therapy was not hampered by the sampling of free beer also available in little cups at the supermarket that day.
|As a secondary goal to sampling appetizing Japanese foods and dishes, meat therapy continued with 4 kinds of cooking:|
yakiniku - We enjoyed grilling several vegetables and thinly sliced meats over a do-it yourself coal BBQ.
sushi - We had a deliciously filling meal in an automatic sushi restaurant where the sushi was served on a conveyor belt and we picked up whichever plate we wanted. Some sushi we had not tried before and liked were gyoza sushi, egg sushi, tofu sushi, and beef sushi.
yakimono - We savoured various grilled meats (marinated and non-marinated) and vegetables, followed by noodles grilled with the remaining bits and pieces of meats and vegetables on the hot plate.
okonomiyaki - We used chopsticks to mix a bowl of our choice of meat, seafood, and vegetables in a cabbage and vegetable batter, then emptied the bowl onto a hot plate and flattened the mixture into a pancake shape, cooking and flipping the 'pancake' with a spatula. I found that I liked to season after with mayonnaise. Yummy!
With such tasty cuisine, I began to be able to eat small thin slices of meat, and was finally able to work my way up to the big piece of beef served on Singapore Airlines from Bangkok to Vancouver. With great friends in Japan, this was an ideal way to transition back to Canada.
Incidently, I instantly liked mochi, which is pounded glutinous rice made into cakes. I can taste it ...