Recently, after not having returned to Australia for 5 years, we made a trip home to celebrate Christmas and New Year with our families. After so long away, it was great to see all the various fare that I had loved as a youth growing up on the Gold Coast.
My sister cooked up her delicious recipe of lemon-pepper lamb shanks, and on another night, her husband barbecued some delicious Australian beefsteaks, still on the bone. We also ate out at the local branch of a popular restaurant chain, “Outback Jack’s”, which specializes in traditional Australian ‘tucker’, our local word for food. Mostly, it serves meat and seafood dishes.
Ironically, one of our friends suggested eating some Japanese food, considering that we had just returned from Japan.
Actually, I believe she thought that it might be interesting to compare it with restaurants in Japan. So I asked her,
“What kind of Japanese food did you have in mind?”
She looked at me as if it were a strange question, before answering.
“Sushi, of course.”
I politely explained to my friend that sushi is only one of a large variety of dishes in Japan. By her expression, it was obvious that she had never really thought about it.
It is true that Japanese people generally eat a lot of fish, as well as other types of seafood, but the cooking styles and recipes are endless. Fish is not just eaten raw either; an equal amount of fish is eaten grilled, broiled, steamed and fried. Most of our Japanese friends tend to eat sushi only once a month, which seems to be about the average. While it’s a popular meal, it certainly isn’t eaten as often as the stereotype would suggest.
Amusingly, the first thing my wife and I were served when we came to Japan was takeout from McDonalds. Our host family was so unsure of whether or not we would like Japanese food that they kindly went out and picked up some hamburgers for us before we arrived. We didn’t have the heart to tell our hosts that they are best served hot, and we did our best to eat the cold burgers with a smile on our face.