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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

While we're on the subject of food...

Damn, it's expensive here!

I mean, even Miyuki has been shocked. You would think NYC prices could inure you to any kind of sticker shock, but gotdamm! $3 for a head of lettuce! Iceberg, even. Of course, the prices for some veggies are a little inflated as of late, due to all the typhoons Japan has been smacked with this Fall. That, and a policy of limiting the importation of produce, combine to make a crazy situation.

But even for staples it's crazy expensive. Spices for example:

Roughly speaking 100 yen = 1 dollar, so you are looking at $5.75 bottle of rosemary (tucked in between the parsley and the "Salad Elegance".... don't know, don't ask).

Of course, on the other hand, the quality of all the food here is consistently high. Everything just tastes better... grapes are juicier, eggs richer, meat more tender. The Japanese seem obsessed with the quality and authenticity of their foodstuffs. Hell, some growers here sign their fruits and vegetables. Countless hours of TV are devoted to food... cooking it, eating it, shopping for it. Pretty much any hour of the day you can tune in to watch somebody cooing with delight over some tasty morsel.

It's often commented on that the Japanese don't have religion. I mean, sure there's temples and shrines everywhere, Buddhist and Shinto rituals accompany births, deaths, marriages, etc. It's ingrained in the daily texture of life, but very few people claim to believe. But the Japanese DO have religion... they've replaced God with food. Food here is all about questions of origins (which is why most food is not imported, as well as to protect Japanese farmers) and is invested with ALL kinds of transcedent values of vitality and health.

So, yeah, it's tasty, but it comes at a price.