Sunday, 5 September 2010

Osaka Food Safari

It is hard to believe that we have been here in Osaka for three weeks as we are only just beginning to catch our breath. The first few weeks have been filled with the nuts and bolts of creating a new life here. Plenty of paperwork to be organised, things to be bought, delivered and installed in our new apartment. To compound things, most days have been sweltering with temperatures averaging around 38 degrees, mixed with incredibly high humidity. Even by Japanese standards, it has been a hot summer and it’s not over yet! While I have now started school, Jules is beginning to explore the city itself. Every night she tells me all of her new discoveries and revelations. As a true epicurean, the search for food ingredients is high on her list of priorities and finding her favourites has been a challenge. As most bottled and canned products are in Japanese, many still remain a complete mystery, while the hunt for essential herbs and spices continues. There is plenty of trial and error, but as each day passes Jules seems to find something she seeks. Gradually the pantry grows, so once she masters our tiny free-standing oven (whose instructions we can’t read) we will be eating gourmet style once again! In the meanwhile we indulge in the best of Japanese food with several fine meals from the endless selection of restaurants. This has resulted in several trips to downtown Osaka, which is around 30 minutes from our apartment. It is quite a remarkable experience and very different from our more suburban existence. After emerging from the train station you are faced with a labyrinth of arcades lined with shops and restaurants that extend over a number of levels. When you finally surface at ground level it is a visual explosion of high-rise, signs, sounds and people. It has been claimed that director Ridley Scott used Osaka as inspiration for the sci-fi classic ‘Blade Runner’, and I can see why, with its mass of illuminated signs and chaotic junction of overhead cabling, it seems to have evolved rather than been designed. However at nightfall, there is an energy that is quite unique and it seems that everyone is out to eat, drink and party. The Japanese really know how to enjoy themselves and it’s an opportunity to reveal the more out going side of their character. That is until around midnight at least. At that time, throngs of people are back on the streets making their way for the last of the trains that will return them safely to their homes. Naturally, we follow the tide of people and make our way back to our somewhat more sedate lifestyle in Japanese suburbia until next time our stomach’s start to rumble.

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