I was wandering aimless around the internet, as I often do, when was I was very surprised to stumble accross a quick and easy recipie guide at McGill. Who’d have thought that they really care about us? They want us to eat well!
I’ve decided that I’d like to learn more crazy ways of cooking. Like, raamen (real stuff, not dirty ass 99 cent crap that everybody calls raamen), that ginger fried pork Mom #1, Kumazawa-san, used to make, sara udon, pad thai, and a whole host of other crazy stuff. A lot of it requires very specific ingredients though. Yasaka gave me a couple sara udon kits, but it just has the noodles and sauce, which is good because I wouldn’t be able to make those for sure, but of course you can’t have things like octopus and squid in a prepackaged kit. Where am I going to get octopus and squid? Maybe the IGA will have some… See, I would just go wandering around in various asian stores, but more often than not I just wouldn’t know what to do with all the stuff. There are little green lettucy type things that I know are really good (and, I think, actually go in sara udon) but I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I can’t improvise asian food yet… I’d take a class or something if I could.
There’s a funny story behind my discovery of delicious sara udon. While, before moving to Japan I didn’t know much about Japanese food, but I developed a taste for it very quickly. I tried just about everything and always avoided ordering the same thing twice (In fact, I have a very good list written down somewhere called “Strange things I ate in Japan”). There was one thing, though, that was reluctant to try. At the various festivals I went to, a few restaurants, and even at my own school cafeteria I kept seeing signs for something called “chi udon“.
I knew that udon was a type of thick noodle soup, but I didn’t want to find out why they added chi to it. The translation in my head was “blood noodles“. It wasn’t until six months into my stay there that I asked my host mom (#3 at this point, Irie-san) “What’s this chi-udon I keep seeing around?”.
She looked at me with this puzzled look and said “Chi-udon?” She pondered it for a few more seconds then this mischeivious grin started across her face. It wasn’t long before she was full out laughing at something pretty good.
“What!? What’s so funny?” I ask.
“Chi-udon!? Blood?” followed by more laughing.
“It’s not CHI-udon. It’s SARA-udon! It means ‘udon on a plate’! You’ve just been getting the letters confused!”
Turns out I had been afraid to try this food all year because I had been mistaking the character for sara, meaning “plate”, for the one for chi, meaning blood. The very next day my host mom had made a huge batch of the stuff for dinner, making sure I noticed that it wasn’t red at all.
Just so you can all compare, chi-udon, which I thought I had been seeing all along, actually looks like this:
And no, this one is not available in any restaurants in Japan that I know of. Compare this to the one above for sara-udon to see that I’m not as big an idiot as you might have thought. But it sure did make for a funny afternoon.