Given how often I write about food you won’t be surprised to learn that there are loads of things that I want to eat in Japan but can’t. Ovid was writing today about things that he craves, and gives a recipe for something called rice-a-roni. I have never eaten that, or even heard of it before I read his post, but I have certainly spent quite a bit of time this year learning to cook things that I crave and have learnt how to substitute food. Only yesterday I made a Shepherd’s Pie with minced pork instead of minced lamb. I think Marty called it a “pig herder’s pie”.
Sometimes though a substitution won’t do. I wanted to have roast parsnips with our Christmas dinner. I had managed to find a small turkey, ham, and frozen sprouts at an online butcher but I was craving parsnips. I tried researching this online and came across tales of people growing their own but that wasn’t something I was going to be able to do before Christmas. I thought that I might be able to find these at the Costco in Saitama. So we hired a car and went on a parsnip hunting adventure, but there were no parsnips. I did manage to buy baby carrots, a box of potatoes, and some Quaker’s Oats. (Potatoes are normally sold in packets of 3 or 4 in Japan so being able to buy a box of them that weighed 7 pounds was fairly amazing.)
Then, whilst at a housewarming party, someone else started to talk about parsnips. They claimed that I could buy them at Nissin World Delicatessen in Azabu-juban. I have shopped there before and have never seen a parsnip but fruit and vegetables are seasonal and it’s certainly the right type of shop to buy something like a parsnip. Alas, there were no parsnips. The shopping trip wasn’t wasted as I bought sweet mince, caster sugar, and Walker’s shortbread.
I had to give up on having roasted parsnips as part of my Christmas dinner but I was happy enough as this was the first time we managed to cook a turkey in Japan. 2010 might officially be the year of the tiger but for me it was undoubtedly the year of the oven.