Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Campfire Food

Nagatoro River - Saitama

It's Wednesday, and I think I'm just about recovered from Golden Week. For those of you not in Japan, Golden Week combines the goodness of not one, not two, but THREE public holidays into the one week, prompting many people to take the remaining 2 days off and make a party out of it.

I had to come into work for a few classes, but I still managed to get out of town for a little rest and relaxation with some friends. It was my first time camping in Japan and I was surprised (and delighted) to discover the shower block you need thongs for had been replaced with indoor and outdoor onsen.

It was also surprising how much preparation had gone into these mini-breaks. Back home, most campers will grab some take away from the local fish and chip shop or use the provided BBQs to grill up sausages and steaks. At most, you'll bring a fry pan or hotplate and build a campfire to cook your meat. Here the sinks and prep areas had long waiting lines and many of the campers brought their own BBQs. When you consider than many of them were only staying one night, that's a pretty good effort.

We cooked our rice in kidney shaped metal canisters called hango (はんごう), which reminded me a little of the Australian billy, and gave that delicious crispy rice bottom that you miss out on with a rice cooker.

Hango - for cooking rice on a campfire.

There was also mountains of yakiniku and grilled vegetables, curry, yakisoba, gyoza, bread rolls and salad for breakfast. I don't think I'll ever get used to salad for breakfast, but everything was delicious and we ate and ate well into the night - Yoshi was still going back for curry seconds at 12 o'clock.

Since then I've been busy getting sunburnt, seeing giant kites and putting together lesson plans. I do have some more kitchen adventures to talk about though, so look back later this week.


Amy said...

The first time I went camping in Japan was with two guys (including my husband-to-be) so it naturally fell to me to bring the food. I was really excited about trying Japanese camping food for the first time and brought along ingredients for yakisoba. Which confused and disappointed the guys, who were expecting steak and hotdogs...

By the way, what campsite did you go to? The onsen sounds great!

Cass said...

Heh :) The Japanese girls in our group had the cooking under control, so we suprised everyone by knowing how to put up tents. For a bunch of 20-somethings there's a weird gender divide - girls' car, boys' car, girls' tent, boys' tent, girls cook, boys assemble.

We went to Nagatoro (I think I'm spelling that right) in the Chichibu area of Saitama. It was beautiful, but packed full of people.