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When in Japan, Eat Italian

Today I decided to do pretty much nothing. Lazy Saturday, as a reward for the midterm exam I'd had the day before. And I pretty much fulfilled that promise: I did absolutely nothing except eat and read poorly written novels from iBooks until the evening when I had my one pre-scheduled event.

The highlight of my culinary adventures was getting to go to my host family's friend's restaurant: he's the chef. Trained in France, he used to own a French restaurant, but after the economy tank he switched to Italian because it's less expensive. But all his food still had a slight French flair to it...

The restaurant is named Nitarato, which is a mix up spelling of his name (which I have casually forgotten...)

Antipasti: small green salad with a light vinaigrette, smoked salmon with grapefruit and capers, smoked scallop, and prosciutto-wrapped fig.

Pasts with a light tomato sauce, squid, and spinach.

Potato, eggplant, and some of the flakiest white fish I have EVER had. Also broccoli and smoked tomato (which I actually ate...)

Caramel ice cream and a coffee-jello cake thing.

Me with the chef. 

Then when we returned home I made chocolate chip cookies because I can't cook to save my life, but can make a mean cookie. It was funny having to do everything in grams...weighing flour on a scale etcetc. It wasn't the recipe I usually use, but they came out perfectly! 

The only time I really left the house today was to see a noh play. Noh is one of Japan's traditional, male-actors only plays. It's the one where they wear the creepy masks. (You remember some posts back I went to the noh museum and got to play dress up.)

That's the traditional noh stage. There were two performances: kyogen (a short comedic skit usually performed inbetween noh plays) and the noh itself. The kyogen was a story of a lord who told his servant to find him 3000 sumo wrestlers. The servant convinces him he only needs one, and when he goes to search for a sumo wrestler he finds a mosquito that transformed itself into a human so it can get blood. The mosquito says it can wrestle, and so the servant brings him to the lord and they have a bout. When the mosquito stings the lord they realize what he is, and in round 2 the lord uses a fan to create wind and weaken the mosquito. However, the mosquito manages to win and flaps off the stage, making a comic peeping sound. In a rage the lord wrestles his servant, wins, and then exits the stage making the same flapping-motion/ peeping sound as the mosquito.

I never said it had to make sense...

The main noh play was a tragedy, as all noh plays are. Semimaru is blind and has been rejected from his noble status. He sits in a thatched hut and plays the biwa (a flute) His crazy older sister is cast out from Kyoto and hearing this flute, stops to listen. He asks who she is, and after realizing she's his sister they embrace. Then they part ways sadly. All the movements are slow, almost sloth-like, and there's weird chant-speaking accompanied by two men playing small drums. Interesting and culturally relevant but...not my thing.


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