12.25.2008

Sqeezably Good Looking

I had a lot of luck yesterday, bad and good. The bad luck was that I ended up on the super crowded train to treatment because I took too long to make the obentos (lunch boxes) for the kids. It was so packed that I couldn't move my hands anywhere and some guy took the opportunity to give my derriere a squeeze. I tried to glance around and the men around me were all younger than I was so I wondered if perhaps one of them either liked big butts or had made a serious mistake (the poor fool). Or maybe any old butt would have sufficed.

It was just a quick grab/squeeze/release but it was a bit of a surprise. I ended up laughing it off (Merry Christmas whoever you were!) and deciding that it must be my lucky day (not necessarily good luck, but luck of sorts) so, just after treatment, I ventured into the big official Tsukiji market right outside the off limits auction area to look for some ankimo (anko monkfish fish "liver") for a friend. I was treated to all sorts of bantering and bargains.

Quite a few foreign tourists wander through the market with narrow cobblestone aisle after aisle of "middle vendors," rectangular vending areas separated by plywood and Plexiglas filled with fish of all sizes and kinds on boards held up by crates. Each vendor has a license to attend the early morning auction to bid on fish for their shop and cart their bounty to their nook of a shop. Most of the foreign visitors apparently don't look for anko fish liver or ask about prices so I think that they were a little surprised by my approach.

One old geezer added double the amount of ankimo and discounted some crab meat because, he said, I'm so beautiful. I got guffaw out of him when I told him that I hear that all the time and tossed my head. Instead of paying 2400 for all of the stuff, he only charged me 1200. Then a shy younger man at another shop handed me back too much change and smiled and waved when I looked surprised and asked if it was OK. He was probably happy to get rid of his tuna jaw even for only 200 yen (it was too big to fit in my biggest pot but has been dealt with).

I was on a roll; I got some good pink tuna for the kids' Christmas tuna on rice sushi bowl dinner (I had to teach last night so we're doing turkey tonight) and the young man marked the chunk of very fresh tuna down from 2500 to 2000 yen. I added 500 yen worth of the nakaochi at another store and was given an extra handful from the guy scraping it off of the tuna spine while I paid the warmly dressed little old lady with an outdated geisha style hairdo and wire rim reading glasses behind the ledgers in a booth with a heater at the back of the shop. There are hundreds of these little booths occupied by abacus wielding grannies while their sons and grandsons (and a few daughters and granddaughters) cart, cut and sell fish "out front."

At the next shop, I joked about giving my husband cheap herring roe for New Years' at another store as the beautiful big yellow whole "pods" can be expensive and he always expects me to cut them into dainty pieces anyway. There was a 300 yen bag of "pod" scraps and I smiled and told them that I'd go treat myself to lunch on the difference. This time the "financial officer" with a big black bun of hair on the top of her head laughed and told the guy out front to give it to me for 200 yen. My bag was getting a little heavy by now and I hadn't even stopped at the outer market to buy a small turkey and pick up some more sliced almonds for Florentines yet.

I walked out of the market area through the fresh produce section and was given a Christmas discount on the last box (about four pints) of sweet smelling, firm looking, fresh strawberries when I mentioned how happy my four children would be to have such fine fruit for Christmas breakfast. Then I headed over to dried goods wholesale store for my almonds before hitting the poultry shop to get one of their last three turkeys.

For people in Japan, an eight pound bird seems humongous. It was the biggest bird that would actually fit in my tiny oven and I have to turn it over a few times so it heats evenly through and then cover it with foil so the outside doesn't get burned to a crisp. My arms are still sore from the over ambitious shopping but I had a lot of fun getting my bargains and the kids are happy to have good and fresh food.

Time to go make some gravy and get this show on the road.

1 comments:

AZmomto8 said...

Kathy,

I love reading about your life in Japan, and hey, it is nice to be reminded we are attractive with a butt squeeze. LOL

The ladies at BCSN are wondering about you my friend, I bet they would love an update, I pointed them to your blog.

Be well.

hugs,
Kris