The comic relief section

The comic relief section: Reflections on cross-cultural misapprehensions

The wonders and horrors of Japanese pizza: I’ve personally eaten baked potato pizza, squid
pizza, mayonnaise-and-seaweed-with-olives pizza, and other things that
should not exist. (Actually the baked potato and squid pizzas weren’t
too bad. The mayo-and-seaweed on the other hand… all I can say is
at least it wasn’t the natto (slime-rotted soybeans) pizza, which I
wouldn’t put in my mouth.) I’m speaking as a veteran of British pizza,
where I had corn, pineapple, and asparagus pizza (yes, on the same pizza).

Japanese concepts of Western
In my Japanese-language New Year’s cookbook, I’m astounded
by their concept of a Western-style New Year’s food collection. The
recommended recipes include:

  • Red snapper grilled
    with the eyes still in it
    (possible but certainly not the first thing someone thinks of when
    you think of New Year’s celebrations)
  • Corned beef
    (I’ve actually heard of this one as a New Year’s tradition… except
    that there’s more to corning beef than boiling it with two bay leaves
    and some sage and thyme.)
  • Broccoli with anchovies
    (they were fine up until the anchovies)
  • Potato salad with cod

    (ditto until the cod roe)
  • Garlic toast with octopus
    (ditto until the octopus… I detect a pattern here…)
  • "Colorful vegetable

    (If they’d been steamed and buttered I wouldn’t have blinked at the
    contents of the dish; pickles just aren’t the standard way a Westerner
    immediately thinks of handling a plate of vegetables including bell
    peppers and cauliflour, though.)