IMG: Harumaki, Japanese style spring rolls

This recipe for spring rolls, or harumaki (春巻き) as they are called in Japanese, may not be authentic - or at least, not authentically Chinese. It's authentically Japanese-Chinese, or chuuka - Chinese dishes that were introduced to Japan mostly in the late 19th-20th centuries by Chinese immigrants (many of whom decided to stay), that have been adopted and adapted to Japanese tastes. Chuuka is not as heavily adapted as yoshoku (western style Japanese dishes), but they do differ in varying ways from the originals. These are the spring rolls I grew up with, the way my mother made them. (As I've stated here before, I don't really feel capable of covering the entire spectrum of 'Asian' cooking, so in that category I mainly stick to the Japanese, Japanese-Western (yoshoku), Japanese-Chinese (chuuka) dishes I know.)

Doraemon's favorite snack

When I wrote about dorayaki, the sweet pancake-sandwich that is cat-robot Doraemon's favorite snack for the Japan Times back in October, I promised to post a recipe for making the little pancakes. Well finally here it is!


The famous flavored Kit Kats sold in Japan are not quite what you'd call delicious treats.

If there's one thing I don't like about Japan, it's that everywhere you go, there are constant reminders to do this, don't do this, go here, go there, and so on. When you're going up or down an escalator, a high pitched polite (usually female) voice tells you to watch your step, hold your kid's hand, stay within the lines, don't put pointy things like umbrellas between the steps, and whatever you do, don't get your long hair caught somewhere (!). On a bus, not only does that high-pitched female voice (probably not the same voice, but they sound alike) tell you what the next stop and the next next stop are, but the bus driver usually repeats that information right after it's been announced. The female voice also tells you to not stand up until the bus comes to a full halt, don't smoke at the bus stop, give up your seat to the elderly...blah, blah blah, every 3 minutes. And as for the trains... it's enough to drive one batty. You just have to tune it out, if you can. I'm sort of trained to listen to and obey public transportation announcements (since they actually mean something in Switzerland) so I'm having a hard time.

Which somehow brings us to today's Cool (or in this case, wacky) item: Mammoth meat snack!

Mammoth meat snack!

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Following up to the potato chip post: the availability of any kind of packaged food around the world is iffy, with the exception of a handful of really global brands, and even they (e.g. Coke) change their formulas from place to place sometimes. But as Roanne's comment reminded me, there is one kind of good potato chip that is available all around the world - Svenska Lantchips, aka Ikea chips. If you have an Ikea near you, next time you're there pick up a bag of these - a trifle on the greasy side, but these are tasty, sturdy chips, the type I really like. When I was at Ikea Spreitenbach a few days ago they had plain salted and unsalted; previously I've seen sour cream flavored ones too. Don't you just love Ikea?

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