Japanese Podcasts

I finally decided to subscribe to Japanesepod101.  I need to do something to improve my Japanese listening skills and the podcasts I have listened to so far do seem useful. Compared to the cost of my Japanese lessons the service is not expensive at $25 a month.

They provided a way to import these into iTunes but I am running into technical problems.  Some of the files just stop downloading with no errors and others give me errors that seem to be related to invalid URLs.  iTunes also keeps losing my password for the podcasts even though I checked the box for this to be remembered. I have never tried to do this before and I had expected it to be much easier.  So far I have 1830 files – sounds like a lot but this has been running for around 24 hours now and there are still another 2400 to go.

Travel Planning

It’s nearly 2009 and I’m starting to plan my conference travel.  I need to find a balance between conferences I want to go to and realistic amounts of travel.  I am tempted to attend Frozen Perl at the start of February.  I’ve read the schedule, looked at hotels, the city, and even checked the price of flights.  But I will be travelling in January and the conference is much too close to my return to Tokyo.  It would exhaust me to go.

I really like living in Japan but it’s so far away from most of the conferences I want to attend.  I have actually fallen asleep at conferences because I was suffering from jet-lag.  I didn’t expect it to be so difficult for me to travel when I moved here but I am going to try to be realistic in my future travel plans.

I will attend YAPC::NA and YAPC::Europe.  I will probably attend YAPC::Asia but at the minute I’m not sure when it will be or if it will be in Tokyo this year.

Christmas Day in Japan

Yesterday was the third Christmas Day we have spent in Japan and it still felt strange.  It’s not really possible to have a Western style Christmas here.  Not only because of the food – which is hard to get – but also because Christmas is about family and our friends and families are not here.

We had a great dinner in Roti.  They make the moistest turkey I have ever tasted. I wasn’t overly fond of the dessert choices, as they didn’t have anything I considered traditional, but they were still good and the rest of the meal more than made up for that.

We know that we need to make new Christmas traditions here. The first year we were in Japan we went to the cinema in the afternoon so we decided to do that again yesterday. We saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and it wasn’t a bad choice for a Christmas movie. Not too serious and not as bad as many of the reviews have made out. We also went to see the lights at Roppongi Hills which are really beautiful. Most of the Christmas decorations are taken down here on the 26th, in order for the New Year ones to be put up, so Christmas Day was the last day to see them.

Christmas Parcel Tree

Christmas Parcel Tree

We came back home after dinner and opened our presents. We have done this on Christmas night since we first got married. I really don’t like to be rushed when opening presents and love the opportunity to take my time looking at every gift.

Christmas Comments

My friend Norwin left the following as a comment to one of my earlier entries.  As not everyone reads the comments I thought I would post it on my main blog.

T’was the day before Christmas,
And out in Japan
Karen was having odd food with her man.

While they waited for bedtime
And stifled their yawns
They feasted on chicken
With white sauce and prawns.

Because of the timezone, and physics, and fuss
They will see Santa long before us,
But from faraway Belfast, in dubious rhyme
Happy Christmas to the Pauley’s!
Have a jolly nice time!

Christmas Strawberries

I’m supposed to limit my intake of goitrogenic foods – one of these being strawberries.  But it’s Christmas Eve and I wanted to eat strawberries and drink a glass of champagne.  Since I won’t be eating strawberries that often, Marty bought me the very expensive ones they sell in Japan for Christmas. They are the most amazing strawberries I have ever tasted.  They are huge and full of flavour and nothing like the small watery things they call strawberries in Northern Ireland.

Japanese Gift Strawberries

Japanese Gift Strawberries

Christmas Chicken

Today is the national holiday that celebrates the Emperor’s Birthday.  As it’s the start of our Christmas break we thought it would be fun to order some Christmas food from KFC.  We didn’t get our order in on time for the Roast Chicken Barrel but we did manage to get premium chicken breasts filled with a strange white, vegetable and shrimp sauce.  I wasn’t sure about the sauce at first but it was actually quite nice.

Christmas Dinner KFC Style

Christmas Dinner KFC Style

5 Responses to “Christmas Chicken”

  1. Norwin Says:

    T’was the day before Christmas,
    And out in Japan
    Karen was having odd food with her man.

    While they waited for bedtime
    And stifled their yawns
    They feasted on chicken
    With white sauce and prawns.

    Because of the timezone, and physics, and fuss
    They will see Santa long before us,
    But from faraway Belfast, in dubious rhyme
    Happy Christmas to the Pauley’s!
    Have a jolly nice time!

  2. karen Says:

    That’s rather sweet Norwin 🙂

  3. Norwin Says:

    Not as sweet as the strawberries.

  4. karen Says:

    The strawberries are amazing.

  5. Khaos » Blog Archive » Christmas Comments Says:

    […] friend Norwin left the following as a comment to one of my earlier entries.  As not everyone reads the comments I thought I would post it on my main […]

Swaying Building

I thought earthquakes felt horrible in the last apartment but here they make me feel quite sick.  The whole building sways from side to side.  I’m lying on the bed watching the bedroom light sway hoping that the quake will stop soon.  And that I’ll stop feeling dizzy.

Cold Evening

I felt so cold this evening.  The mild weather is starting to disappear in Tokyo in preparation for winter.  I got Marty to put the heating on but after half an hour I was still freezing.  I was starting to worry that there was something wrong with my medication, as it can affect body temperature, when I realised that something was blowing cold air at me.  Marty hadn’t put on the heating. He’d put on the air conditioning and was cooling the room down.  No wonder I felt so cold.

The Self-Organizing Nature of Open Source Projects

I’ve just finished reading an interesting paper called “Latent Social Structure in Open Source Projects“[pdf].

The authors looked at open source projects to discover if the project members self-organize and how successful the self-organization is. They also tried to determine if the ways that open source projects self-organize could provide useful lessons to aid in the building of commercial software teams.  A nice change from open source projects trying to learn from more traditional software projects.

I was particularly interested as one of the projects they looked at was Perl; the other four were Apache HTTPD, Arache ANT, PostgresSQL, and Python.

The authors detected community structure by data-mining the mailing lists used by the projects’ developers.  They are aware that developers use other methods of communication, such as private email and irc channels, but they considered mailing lists to be a good place to start.

There are a some things in the paper that I am not sure about.  They describe Perl and Python as being examples of projects that are monoarchist with a project leader.  I can’t comment on the Python project but is Larry Wall really “at the helm making informed important decisions”?  The paper contains a chart showing the development community structure in Perl from April to June 2007.  They have taken out the managers from this chart so I can’t tell if Larry was involved in any of the development being shown.  (Larry would fall under their definition of a manager as a person with intimate knowledge of large parts of the project who would link various sub-communities together.)  I am aware that Larry is still involved in many aspects of Perl development but I do feel that the project is much too big to think of any one person being at its helm.

I did find the chart showing Perl development fascinating though I have no idea what aspect of Perl development the sub-communities they show are involved in.  There is a sub-community of Paul Marquis and Xiao Liang Liu.  Another with Jonathan Stowe and Pelle Svensson.  One of the communities showing active development contains Arthur Bergman, Leon Brocard, H. Merijn Brand and Jarkko Hietaniemi.

They also gave some information on the data gathered to work out the sub-communities.  They looked at Perl mailing lists from 1st March 1999 to the 20th June 2007 (it doesn’t state which list or lists.)  They counted 112,514 messages with 3,261 participants.  They also extracted information from code taking the author, time of commit and the filename.  They then matched the author to the email addresses.  For this period of Perl they say that there were 92,502 commits.  But the figure that really shocked me was that for all these commits there were only 25 developers.  So we have a mailing list with 3,621 people on it but only 25 people actually making any changes that were agreed!

I assume that they were looking at the core Perl language and I am aware that Perl modules are being developed by thousands of developers but I’m still fascinated by the concept that so few people are committers on what appears to be a vast project. I would love to know more about their data.  Which list did they use, how many messages are there per month, is this number declining over time?  Maybe I’ll write and ask.

A lot of the things in the paper didn’t surprise me but one thing intrigues me. Do developers work better if they get to choose who to work with?

4 Responses to “The Self-Organizing Nature of Open Source Projects”

  1. Leon Brocard Says:

    Wow, that particular graph seems to be completely made up.

  2. karen Says:

    It must be based on something – as I recognize those Perl people. Just not sure what exactly. Mind you I was hoping someone like you would know what it was based on.

  3. Nicholas Clark Says:

    I’m not on there. Rafael is not on there. As to what data they were using, I have no clue. And I doubt that I’m the only one.

  4. karen Says:

    I did notice that you weren’t listed. It made me wonder if they had determined that you were a manager (under their definition) – as they talked about finding about three of these for each project.

    I don’t know though. So I probably will write and ask.

Christmas Outfit

As a child I was always bought a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day.  It made the day seem more special.  This year I have nothing new to wear.  It’s not easy for me to buy clothes in Japan and though I can think of a few shops I could travel to being ill has mostly kept me inside the apartment.

Last night I was looking at the Christmas section on I noticed that they were selling Christmas costumes and I was curious to see what their Santa outfits would look like.  I came across a Daisy Santa outfit – which is not something I plan to wear this Christmas.  I’m not quite sure who Daisy is but a black Christmas outfit just doesn’t seem right.

Amazon Daisy Santa Outfit

Amazon Daisy Santa Outfit

Talking Apartment

There are things I don’t understand about our new apartment.  Today I heard some strange noises whilst I was in the shower.  And when I was getting dressed something started talking in the living room.

There are a variety of things that can speak in the apartment.  There is an intercom system that allows us to speak to people at the front of the apartment building and I assume that security can use it to speak to us.  The heating system speaks when you adjust the temperature of the water.  I think that the alarm system can also speak.  I have no idea what was speaking today but it made me jump.

4 Responses to “Talking Apartment”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    And don’t forget the ghosts!

  2. karen Says:

    It’s a nice new apartment so I’m hoping it’s without ghosts. Mind you it’s built in an area of Tokyo that is known for execution grounds.

  3. Norwin Says:

    Or just a another voice inside your head.
    Don’t listen to it if it suggests killing people!!

  4. karen Says:

    You won’t have to worry about that too much – considering the voice spoke in Japanese. And I don’t know any of the Japanese words for killing people!

Japanese Pharmacists

Last week I went to a pharmacy for the first time since I moved to Japan.  Marty had gone for me before and he hadn’t mentioned any of the differences.  The first thing I had to do was register.  They wanted my name and address.  Then I had to fill in a medical questionnaire regarding any medication I was currently on, what symptoms I currently had, and what the doctor had told me about the medication I was about to be given.

I was there to pick up a prescription for the common cold.  After filling in my symptoms and the required information I was then interviewed by the pharmacist. So I got to waste someone else’s time discussing my rather pathetic cold.

The pharmacist also advised me to use a book to record my medication in.  This book is provided for free but you have to pay a bit extra for each prescription ( a bit being about 20 円, (15p or 22 cents)) as they print out a sticker for the book.  This is an excellent idea.  It means I don’t need to know the Japanese names for my medication and I won’t need to fill in questionnaires or try to explain what I am taking to someone else.

It was nothing like going to get prescription medication in Belfast.  In Belfast you pick up prescription medicine in a chemist that is going to also sell over-the-counter medicine as well as everything from shampoo to face cream.  In Japan these things are bought in drug stores and prescription medicine is dispensed in a pharmacy. Over-the-counter medicine in Japan is still actually behind a counter.  In Belfast you can pick up pain-killers and cold medicine in a garage or a supermarket.  And these are no longer behind a counter in a chemist.  It does make it harder for me to buy tablets in Japan, as I need to know how to ask for them, but it does seem to be a much safer system if less convenient.

Japanese Christmas Food

I really like traditional Christmas food.  This year we are going out to Roti in Roppongi for Christmas dinner.

The Japanese have started to produce their own Christmas food.  I have been amused by the adverts from Moss Burger wishing people a “Happy X-Moss” and advertising some sort of chicken they plan to sell for Christmas.  Kentucky Fried Chicken produces their version of a Christmas dinner, described as a premium roast chicken, which is sold in a “roast chicken barrel“.  These are very popular and need to be ordered in advance.

The Japanese also have their own Christmas cake.  It’s expensive and made with strawberries and cream.  I’m not that fond of it but I eat it anyway.

Japanese Christmas Cake

Japanese Christmas Cake

2 Responses to “Japanese Christmas Food”

  1. Geoff! Says:

    ケーキだ!!!! (^~^)モグモグ
    I do like the idea of happy x-moss, we need a Moss Burger in Belfast… right beside the Yoshinoya please…

    What? Roti aren’t serving North Antrim turkey?

  2. karen Says:

    Nope. You want a traditional Christmas in Tokyo it’s probably going to be an American one. I don’t care as long as they roast the turkey!

Hospital Visit

I spent all morning at the Ito Hospital.  It was horrible.  I arrived at 8:00am just as it opened.  It took about 10 minutes for me to register as a patient.  By that stage I was already number 267 on the waiting list.  I went up to the waiting room and managed to find a chair.  I was very lucky as the room, which probably held around 200 people comfortably, was already holding more than 300 patients and whatever family members they had brought with them.  And it got worse.  By 9:00am I reckon there were more than 500 people in that room.  It was getting difficult to see the monitors or to work out how to get through the crowds to reach the examination rooms.

When I finally got to see a doctor he didn’t completely agree with the opinion of the doctor I had seen the day before.  Both agree that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  But they disagree as to how serious my hypothyroidism is.  So I got to wait for another 3 hours to have another ultrasound done.  How different can it be to the one that was done on Wednesday afternoon?

I have to go back on the 10th January for more blood tests, another ultrasound and maybe a biopsy.  On the plus side that’s nearly a whole month without having to see a doctor.

4 Responses to “Hospital Visit”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    All of this sounds horrible and I hope very much that you are treated quickly and that you don’t have to see a doctor every few weeks.
    Also, I think it’s funny that they gave you medicine for a cold. What could they give you? It’s a virus. Do they just treat the symptoms?

  2. karen Says:

    I think they just treat the symptoms. It was hard for me to tell what they were giving me. It’s a strange white powder which I assume is supposed to lower my temperature. It’s described as a non-pyrine cold preparation…

    I too hope I don’t have to see a doctor too often as I find the whole experience quite stressful. I suppose it’s not really the doctor that stresses me but trying to understand the system that surrounds seeing the doctor which is all in Japanese.

  3. Geoff! Says:

    Gosh, that all sounds rather tricky… as they say – hospital’s are no place for the sick! Hope you’re feeling better soon. Also your assessed condition appears to have a local (to you) link… there’s irony! 🙂

  4. karen Says:

    Yeah. When I mentioned it to some people they thought I was giving them the name of the disease in Japanese.

    Soon I’ll have to start explaining that it wasn’t something I caught in Japan…

Dinner Party

We had our first guest to the new apartment tonight.  Everything went really well until we got to the dessert.  I had forgotten to put the Christmas puddings on to steam.  As this would take at least 30 minutes Marty suggested running upstairs to the Sky Lounge and heating them in the microwave.  He poked holes into the lids with a fork and went upstairs.  But he arrived back really quickly as the Lounge was closed.

Now we have three little Christmas puddings that can’t be steamed because of holes in their lids.

Christmas Play-list

At the minute the only Christmas music I get to hear is the really annoying, speeded up, cheesy sounding type that they play in supermarkets to torment shoppers.  I was practically galloping around the store today to “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.

To rectify this problem I created a Christmas play-list.  Since I really like carols and choirs my play-list was starting to sound a bit serious and was lacking any of the fun music associated with Christmas.  I decided to find myself a copy of “Christmas Time” by “The Darkness”.  What I ended up with was some awful thing called “Christmas Time” by “Darkness” from an album called “Christmas Hits”.  I really don’t know how this happened.  Looking at the iTunes store now this song is listed as being by “Backstreet Boys”.  Most definitely a waste of 79p even if the pound is tanking.

Cold Medicine

Today I had to go to the Doctors.  When I woke up I considered not going because I didn’t feel well.  That my sound strange but I wouldn’t normally bother a doctor with something as simple as the common cold.  And given that my throat was sore, my nose was running, and I kept wanting to sneeze I assumed that’s what I had.  I didn’t even have an appointment to cancel, (the surgery charges 5,250 円 (38 GBP, 57 USD) for one), as I had planned to walk in and wait.  In the end I decided to go anyway because I was really keen to get some blood tests out of the way.

I’m not quite sure how long I spent waiting.  Part of the wait was my own fault as I arrived an hour before the end of their lunch break.  And even though I was near the start of the queue they don’t necessarily see people in the order that they arrive.  It was worth the wait as I got to see an experienced doctor who ordered all my blood tests and quite a few more that I wasn’t expecting.  At first I didn’t mention the cold as it has been drummed into me by doctors in the U.K. that colds are not something you should waste a doctor’s time on.  But when the doctor was looking at my file he pointed out that my body temperature now appeared to be normal when before it was slightly too low.

My body temperature appeared normal because I was running a slight fever.  And the doctor then checked my ears, nose, and throat and proclaimed that I had a cold and that he would prescribe medication for this.  He then went on to ask me what my preferences in cold medication were and I told him that I have never been prescribed anything for a cold before.  This made him smile.  He likes the U.K. policy of not visiting a doctor with a cold but told me that in Japan many people prefer to get a prescription from the doctor for this.  I took the prescription.

And now I can tell people that a man who has been a Court physician to the Emperor of Japan treated me for the common cold.

7 Responses to “Cold Medicine”

  1. Alan in Belfast Says:

    > And now I can tell people that a man who has been a Court physician to the Emperor of Japan treated me for the common cold.

    And that’s not to be sneezed at!

  2. Geoff! Says:

    So long as you don’t have “heavy legs”… sounds very similar to this cultural observation… A curiously French complaint

  3. karen Says:

    (Think Alan has been spending too much time with Geoff and Norwin 🙂 )

    Just checked out that article and thankfully I don’t have heavy legs.

    The Japanese are very concerned about infectious diseases. Probably because of the close contact on the trains. Given that a real flu can take you out of work for 8 – 10 days it’s a big concern in a country with no welfare state to pay your sick leave for you.

  4. Khaos » Blog Archive » Japanese Pharmacists Says:

    […] was there to pick up a prescription for the common cold.  After filling in my symptoms and the required information I was then interviewed by the […]

  5. Norwin Says:

    “has been a Court physician”. Does that mean he isn’t any more? Does that mean he was sacked by the Emperor? Maybe he’s just a quack!!

  6. karen Says:

    Since he is Director of Medicine at the clinic I was attending I doubt he is any sort of quack 🙂

  7. Sophia Wilson Says:

    The usual remedy for common cold is just lots of water, fruit juice and also vitamin-C tablets.;.`

The Weather Outside Is ... Warm.

When I was out yesterday I was surrounded by people who were wearing multiple layers of clothes, hats, scarves, and gloves. I know it’s December and that in Japan December is considered to be winter but why dress for winter when it’s still 18 degrees C ( 64 degrees F) outside?

2 Responses to “The Weather Outside Is … Warm.”

  1. Geoff! Says:

    Luxury, I tell you… Brrrrrrrr. 🙁

  2. karen Says:

    I’m surprised by how mild it has been in Tokyo.

    When I check the weather I also look at my weather widget for Belfast and I get to see that it actually is freezing there. Makes me smile 🙂

Christmas Food

A couple of weeks ago one of my friends sent me a thank you gift that contained packets of Maltesers.  Since moving to Japan I have started to crave these little chocolate honeycomb balls.  Marty also loves Maltesers so they disappeared much too quickly.

Not surprisingly Maltesers aren’t the only thing I miss eating in Japan.  As a Christmas treat I ordered us some food from one of the online British food stores.  It’s expensive to do this, because of the postage costs, but I really wanted a traditional Christmas pudding, cake, and mince pies. In my last order I decided to get some Maltesers.  I must not have been paying enough attention at the time because I made a bit of a mistake.  Today I received 16 boxes of Maltesers. Anyone fancy a game of Malteser Jenga?

Maltesers Stacked on the Table

Maltesers Stacked on the Table

3 Responses to “Christmas Food”

  1. Chastity Says:

    That sounds like something that would happen to me! Also, at some point, you need to tell me about all these traditional Christmas foods (mince pies, puddings, etc) because these are the things that live in my imagination of a perfectly traditional Christmas thanks to Dickens (but American traditional foods seem to be a lot different than British ones) and I apparently have a hankering to do Christmas British style.

  2. Simon Says:

    Have you discovered ?

  3. karen Says:

    I knew about it but I have never used it. Mainly because they don’t sell some of the traditional British stuff that I would like to eat.

    I’ll have to take another look at it though.

New Scanner

A couple of weeks ago Marty bought me a scanner.  For a while now I’ve wanted to do something with the large collection of prints I have taken over the years. I never got round to putting these in albums and the damp air here is causing them to stick together.

I would like to have bought a negative scanner but I rarely use my 35mm camera anymore so this would have had a limited use.  In the end I compromised and bought a flatbed scanner that can also scan some types of negatives.

One of the reasons I moved to digital was that it was becoming too hard to get film printed.  Black and White film had to be posted away and some never came back.  Others came back with prints composed of half one picture and half of another.  Even colour films were ruined.  All my Egyptian films came back too yellow with lots of scratches on the pictures.  When I first saw them I was really worried that something had gone badly wrong with my camera but then I realised that these had been left to dry on something dirty.  I found the Egyptian photographs today but the negatives wouldn’t scan.  So far I haven’t been able to scan many of my negatives.  The process is slow and seems to work less than 50% of the time.  The negatives have to be completely flat and a lot of mine curve slightly.  There are also problems depending on how the negatives have been cut by the processing company.

I did manage to scan a few pictures though and I’m glad that I now have some of these stored on my computer.

Sailing Boat on the River Nile

Sailing Boat on the River Nile

Another Blue Bike

We finally got round to buying bikes last weekend. I wasn’t able to get over my love for the first blue bike I saw so I sent Marty out on his own to pick the bikes. He brought me back a bike that is also blue but that cost a fraction of the price of the one I really wanted.

Today we cycled along the Sumida river. I have been ill for weeks and I was shocked at how much it has affected my fitness level. It’s true that I’m still not completely healed but I wasn’t able to cycle for longer than 20 minutes.  It was fun though and I’m looking forward to exploring more in the coming weeks.

Blood Type Personality

Tony sent me a link to an article about the blood type obsession in Japan.  I already knew that in Japan it’s much more likely that someone would ask my blood type than my star sign but I’ve always had to tell people that I didn’t know what my blood type was.  This answer was always received with shock as everyone here knows what their blood type is.

The last person to ask me was a doctor and he laughed at me when I told him I didn’t know my blood type.  Since the doctor needed to know I now know that my blood type is A+.

So, after reading the article, it’s great to know that people with my blood type are considered to be patient, uptight, sensitive, responsible and cautious.  Maybe I should just keep telling the people who ask that I don’t know what it is.

December Home

I realised today that this is the fourth December in a row that I have lived in a different place.  I also realised that this apartment is not cold unlike our last one.  The new apartment actually has air conditioners / heaters that work as they are supposed to.  We also have under floor heating in the living room and a blow heater of some sort in the bathroom.  No longer will the heated toilet seat make the loo the warmest place to be.

It’s still fairly mild in Tokyo and we haven’t needed to use the heating much.  At night I prefer to wrap myself up in a fluffy blanket rather than put on the heating.  I’m a bit envious of my friends who keep telling me about the snow they are having. But I do know that snow is one of those things I always think of fondly but that the reality is sometimes much less appealing.

Beautiful Okinawa

Marty and I spent five days in November relaxing in Okinawa at the Renaissance ResortMarty really likes water sports and I love to look at the sea.  The sea at Okinawa can be emerald green and various shades of light blue when the sun shines deepening to a dark blue.

When I was a small child we used to go to the beach at places like Millisle and Tyrella in County Down, Northern Ireland.  I remember the sea as being gray.   It was also usually quite cold, unlike Okinawa, but I loved to go anyway.  It’s hard to remember those days but I think my sister and I would sometimes go to the beach with my Grandparents on a Sunday afternoon.  Tyrella always seemed more of an adventure as it used to have a rickety road to the beach and I can remember my Granda driving down it at one point with a flat tire causing the car to lurch from side to side.  (I think my Granda Bailie’s driving was always a bit of a family joke and any car he ever owned was always on its last legs.)  My sister and I used to hide in the sand dunes and then try to find creatures in the rock pools.  I’m not quite sure exactly what we were looking for and I have strange memories of my Granda wanting us to find something he called “winkles” and “willicks”.

I think I will always love the sea.

Okinawa, South China Sea

Okinawa, South China Sea

2 Responses to “Beautiful Okinawa”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    What a gorgeous blue color! I want to knit it.

  2. karen Says:

    It is lovely. I’m only sorry that I didn’t manage to take better pictures of it.

Irish Cooking

Over the next few weeks we are expecting to have friends over for dinner.  I have been trying to think of dishes to cook that are Irish but that don’t require an oven.  Food is one of the few things I can talk about in Japanese but I am never sure what to tell people when they ask about food from Ireland.  What are our traditional dishes?

I have seen recipes for corn beef and cabbage – but really I have never eaten that anywhere but America.  And I don’t believe that adding Guinness or Baileys to a recipe makes it authentically Irish either.  The other problem is that I’m from the North of Ireland so have never eaten Dublin Coddle or Boxty (actually I had to look both these up when I first came across them as I had no idea what they were).

Potatoes are a key ingredient in Irish cooking but I don’t like champ or colcannon.  I do like Irish stew and potato soup and potato bread but I need a bit more variety than this as I don’t think we can have potatoes for all the courses.

I do wonder though how much the diet of Northern Irish people has changed from the traditional meal of meat and potatoes.  I rarely cooked potatoes when I lived there.  I was much more likely to cook Chinese, Italian or Mexican food.  Every other restaurant is a Chinese restaurant and Indian food it also really popular.  It’s actually difficult to find anywhere in Belfast that serves food that could be called traditionally Irish or British.

I am seriously considering cooking chicken tikka masala as my main dish.  Jamie Oliver’s recipe for this is really good and it is one of the most popular foods in the U.K. It may even have been created in the U.K.  I just don’t think that my Japanese friends will  be expecting spicy food served with rice but they are much more likely to come across that in Belfast than they are Dublin Lawyer or Dublin Coddle.

4 Responses to “Irish Cooking”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    Just thinking about champ makes my mouth water, but I suppose that’s because I’m a huge mashed-potato fan.

  2. karen Says:

    I really don’t like mashed food. The texture just makes me feel all yucky.

    I do make a nice Irish stew though and I’m careful not to let my potatoes become too mashed. Marty always mashes his up more once they’re in his bowl.

  3. Scott Says:

    Johanna and I just started making soda bread for ourselves. Oh how I missed it… also surprised by how insanely easy it is to make too.

    Just need to start making our own potato bread and we’ll try introducing our canadian friends to the Ulster fry… mwuahahaha.

  4. karen Says:

    Potato bread is easy to make and it’s my favourite.

    I haven’t tried an Ulster fry here – even when our friends arrived with Soda and Potato bread. It’s hard to get decent bacon (should be easier for you in Canada) and the sausages here are much more wurst like than I would like. I miss beef sausages! (I know that lots of people have pork sausages with their fry but I was brought up eating beef ones.)

Christmas Cards

I have spent hours writing Christmas cards. It was suggested to me that we send e-cards instead but I think they are a poor replacement for paper cards. The surprising benefit of writing cards is that I can now write our address in Japanese. It’s scary though to think that I’ve been here for two years and only now can I do this.

4 Responses to “Christmas Cards”

  1. Geoff! Says:

    Spooky coincidence… hopefully I can write your new address too, now. I guess you’ll find out if it was any good in the coming weeks!

  2. karen Says:

    You can laugh at my attempt at writing a senders address on the back of your Christmas card when it arrives!

  3. Norwin Says:

    Just don’t try to write the destination addresses in Japanese. I have no idea what the Japanese for Belfast looks like. And I suspect neither do our postmen!

  4. karen Says:

    I didn’t do that. People have a hard enough time reading my English!