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Oh Rice Crackers!

Today was yet another day of AFS extensive-commute semi-awesomeness. (I say "semi" because today also involved 4.5 hours total of train riding. And too many transfers to count. Why can't these events be closer to home?)

Anyhow, today my AFS chapter went to Soka City (in Saitama) to a small"osenbei"--Japanese rice cracker--factory. Aparently the area is known for its osenbei.
We were driven to the factory, which was very small and traditional looking. There was a short tour and presentation about how osenbei is made, of which I understood maybe half.

The fun part was when we actually got to make osenbei. We didn't make the inital cracker, considering that takes a long time, but we did get to cook them.
The center of the structure, where the metal grille is, is where you put the crackers to cook them (there's a fire underneath). In one hand you wear the white glove (for protection) and in the other hand you flip the crackers with a pair of chopsticks. The pink things under the gloves are presses, which you use when the cooking cracker starts to curl at the edges--you squish it flat again. (And pushing it into the grille gives it some nice marks).
As you keep flipping the cracker it gradually puffs up and gets bigger, as well as turning this yummy toast-brown color. When it turns completely golden you pull it off the fire and let it set for a bit.We each got to make three crackers.
(The guy there works at the factory and helps you out; he said mine looked the best, and I had to agree: they were the color of a PERFECT pancake.)

Then you take the cooked crackers and paint them with this soy-sauce mixture.

And then you eat! They were delicious, and I got some to give to my friends at school--"omiage", souveniers.

There we have the AFS group!
So I've been gone since 9:30 in the morning and it's now 8:15. Yeah....I'm tired. Good thing tomorrow is Sunday. I"m going to sleep like a rock.

I have another event on Tuesday as well, AFS certainly keeps me busy!

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