Not Peanut Butter

Jun 2, 2021Blog, Culture, Food

Not Peanut Butter

Many moons ago, there were several Canadian carpenters building 2 x 4 houses in sunny Chiba Prefecture.

Anyway, meeting these Canadian carpenters was most fortuitous.

2 x 4 house wall going up

The head carpenter returned to Ontario Canada after the small local housing company went bankrupt, and the Canadian carpenters were let go.

He was then engaged to send over two containers full of housing material and 3 Canadian carpenters to build one’s very own Canadian 2×4 house in beautiful sunny Chiba, where one resides with the honourable wife and 5 beautiful cats to this very day.

It was interesting to meet these skilled craftsman here in Japan, in which to their shock, surprise, and sometimes dismay offered a significantly different experience from their hometowns in the Eastern part of Canada.

One particular Canadian carpenters was having significant issues adjusting to Japanese food, and was longing for some good old Canadian comfort food, peanut butter!

Peanut Butter

Now, peanut butter is something relatively recent to the Japanese and is still not really so widely available in regular supermarkets.

However, to this homesick country Canadian boy, he saw an entire wall full of what looked like peanut butter, hallelujah!

Thinking he has found peanut butter paradise, he purchased a unit and excitedly brought it home, dreaming of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (PB&J).

One happened to be visiting the Canadian carpenters on that very day, and he held up the yet unopened container saying in a hopeful voice “this is peanut butter, right?”

His hope of a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to soothe his homesick soul was crushed under the boot-heal of reality when told gently, “no, this is miso (soybean paste).”

味噌の種類

To which he replied with a deep melancholy look in his eyes, “what’s that?”

One informed him that miso is one of the main staples of the Japanese diet.

Miso is a versatile paste which can be mixed into sauces, dressings, batters, vegetable dips, and soups (or whatever tickles one’s fancy).

One of the very best things about miso is that it is a cultured food, and a natural source of healthy probiotics (also known as “good bacteria”), which is beneficial for digestion (nothing quite like a healthy bowl movement).

An all time personal favorite, the traditional Japanese breakfast is always accompanied by a hearty bowl of miso soup as the companion to the rice, fish, natto and pickles.

和風朝食セット焼き魚 おひたし みそ汁

Often miso is a feature in the ramen shop, where one can choose between soy sauce, salt, pork broth (tonkotsu), or miso flavor.

The first experience one had eating ramen back in January 1987, was a hearty bowl of miso ramen on a cold winter day. This delightful meal included spring onions and slabs of pork (kakuni), and the most delicious miso ever, and when eating this incredible dish it was love at first bite.

Miso Ramen with Kakuni

However, much to the chagrin of the Japanese companion, the entire bowl of soup was drained of all liquid with abject delight.

Along with being chastised for these poor manners, the lecture was also accompanied by the phrase, “if you drink all the ramen miso soup you will die of high blood pressure one day.”

Slurping up the soup is now looked upon as better manners as it helps the environment by eliminating food waste.

Moreover, as of this writing, one is not dead yet, so it looks like it’s okay to swill the ramen broth.

Wall Of Miso

Bonus Peanut Butter: When interpreting for American engineers at the world’s largest synthetic paper factory, this outstanding Japanese company always prepared a delicious lunch box for them. However, one engineer was not adventurous whatsoever in their eating habits, and brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the factory every day. It is here where he washed down the PB&J sandwich with a coke, every day. When inquiring each day as to how PB&J sandwich was, his answer was always the same, “predictable.”

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