Quiet, Sophisticated Dining
Not surprisingly, this does not refer to the school dinners. Usually I meet Dan and a selection of his colleagues for lunch. At the start of June our numbers were depleted as Jermain san was on holiday and Paul san was in Hitachi city. So Dan, Sesheimo san and I had a couple of quieter lunches, the most memorable of which was at a French restaurant where I had my first ever galette. It was flavoured with blue cheese, pink peppercorns and honey. We ate outside and had beautiful views of the Yokohama wheel.
I’d first read about galettes in a book I read in October called ‘Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather’ set in Quebec. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17120581-fish-change-direction-in-cold-weather It’s a sweet book, I recommend it. The following day I had the school lunch to look forward to. Below are some snaps I took around Motomachi, where the school is situated.
Armed with my slippers in a bag, my 260yen for lunch and a red PTA lanyard from the 100yen shop, I arrived at the school at the correct time. Go me.
Of course I hadn’t realised that there would be an hour-long presentation from the head of health and hygiene at the school about how the lunches are prepared.
It was all in Japanese but thankfully there were pictures too, but I did get more from the experience when an English speaker mother whose daughter is in Oliver’s class came over and explained some of it to me.
Here are some of the highlights:
- All meals are made on site in the school kitchens.
- They are making meals for over 600 people, (pupils and staff combined).
- All meals are made from scratch, including broths. Recent changes to the amount of salt allowed in the meals means that more effort has to go into flavouring the broths, and ideally these would be simmered over a longer period, but due to time constraints they are not as flavourful as the staff would like. But it’s a compromise.
- The staff take stringent measures to prevent against cross-contamination. Not only do they use separate knives and boards for different foods, but also different aprons, gloves and face masks. Wow.
- There was a problem with waste at the school but after giving a presentation to the students about how hard the cooks work to ensure the children get tasty and healthy meals, the amount of waste has been drastically reduced.
- Staff from Kamakura district education board were attending the presentation in order to learn from what Yokohama are doing. Yokohama must be a beacon of yumminess.
Finally, the presentation was over, and after washing our hands we lined up for our lunch.
It was delicious. Except for the milk, which was just odd. I’m not a big milk drinker at the best of times, but I closed my eyes and sucked it up and then I could focus on the other elements of the meal: bread roll flavoured with cheese (yum); spaghetti bolognaise; cabbage salad and melon. Yum, yum, yum and yum.
That week also had Oliver going on a school trip to the theatre, which us parents were also invited to. So I walked through Nogai to the theatre and saw some new bits of Yokohama including this Art and Architecture library/ cafe, which I filed away to visit a later time.
I also clocked these bars along the banks of the canal that looked artistically seedy and so took this snap of them.
I’ve never been to a Japanese theatre before, and apart from he decor, it was very similar to a British (modern) theatre.
When the curtain went up there were three gentlemen in Kimonos who came onto stage and played percussion instruments.
Then a lady came on stage and played the shamisen. She played two or three tunes, including one western one which was familiar to me mainly through campfire singing at Guides. (‘Mary Had some Marmalade’ and ‘Jonny was a Parachuter’). There were three schools at the theatre, all of the kids were in the 5th grade. Two kids from each school were invited up on stage to have a go with the percussion whilst the shamisen player played alongside.
There was an interval, then one of the gentlemen came onstage and told a story.
After this, the tone changed completely and a lady dressed in sparkly high heels, a split skirt and witchy get-up came on to do some magic.This bit was rather bizarre. The magic wasn’t that great either.
This was followed by another Japanese story telling session.
Quite an experience. Glad I went.