Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Nabe (pronounced "nah-bay") is Japan's answer to the Chinese "hot pot"... It is amazingly delicious, healthy, and interactive! I've been lucky enough to have been invited to several nabe parties, and despite the fact that all the food is boiled in dashi or soymilk or broth, I still feel that I will gain 20 pounds by the time the winter is over. The whole production is several hours long, beginning with a few snacks while the pot(s) and stove(s) are being prepared.
First, a portable stove is set in the middle of the table, surrounded by plates and bowls of fresh vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, meat, crab, fish heads, or whatever the host(ess) wants to serve that evening. Then, a large clay-fired pot filled with the boiling broth is placed upon it, and everyone just goes to town, dumping vegetables and meat or whatever in the communal pot. When we compared it to "fondue", some of them were shocked/ disgusted/ intrigued that we would have whole meals where we dipped food into cheese or chocolate!! After several hours of eating, all the remaining food is taken out of the pots. A dish of cooked rice and a raw egg are tossed in one pot while udon noodles are put into the other, and then you feast on that for another hour!
The big group of people is some of the people on my volleyball team. Long story, but the (wo)man at/on(? oh god, I've been in this country too long!) the left center is actually a "new haIf"- as in transexuaI... a special friend of our volleyball coach. A lot of the dinner conversation centered around her hobbies, jobs, etc. but we weren't ready for the nude modeling shots that she pulled out of her purse!! But I suppose after a few drinks everyone was feeling pretty happy and open (4000¥ all you can eat/drink= $35)! The night then moved on to Azitos for more food and drinks. Fantastic food, bottomless drinks, questionable tendencies (ass-grabbing!), coming home tipsy past 1am on a school night- ahh, I seem to have found my New York scene in little Miyazu!!