Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Funny Valentine

 It so strange seeing friends and family in America talk about Valentine's Day when we're well into February 15th over here. Living in the future is a bit disorienting at times. Another American holiday has come and gone, and of course Japan has its own take on Valentine's Day.

On Valentine's Day, it's common for Japanese women to give chocolates to men. Women are encouraged to express love to men by giving chocolates and other gifts. Chocolates are often given to male co-workers, bosses, friends, family members, and so on. Men give various gifts to women on March 14 called White Day. It's said that this tradition started as a marketing tool for chocolate companies in Japan.

Chocolates given to men whom women don't feel special love are called "giri (obligation)-choco (chocolate)" in Japan. Chocolate given to co-workers and bosses are usually considered giri-choco. Women tend to give special gifts with chocolates to those men whom they love. Chocolates given to a special man from a woman is called "honmei (prospective winner)-choco." In recent years, many Japanese young women exchange chocolate gifts with their female friends. These chocolates are called "tomo (friend) choco."

That's great and all, but it just didn't feel like Valentine's Day without my lovely Pre-K assistant Jodi,  our disgustingly pink classroom, conversation hearts, and twenty sugar-hyped 4-year-olds. ♥ I still love Japan, but holidays just aren't the same here! I couldn't even deck out my English board this time since the teachers needed to use it last week for something else. I have to admit I was a little down throughout the day, but at least the evening made up for it.

Breaking the rules, Matt got me flowers, chocolate, and little gifts!

I was happy to come home to a nice surprise. It gave me the motivation to execute my plan for Matt. Most girls in Japan make chocolates or bake sweets for their man, but Matt's a complex character who dislikes overly sweet confections. It also doesn't help that it's difficult to surprise him, with his office space being 3 feet away from the kitchen. Nevertheless, I locked him in the tatami room and mysteriously announced that I would be making dinner.

Contrary to popular belief (or just what Chef Matt likes to tease me about), I do enjoy cooking, I just have to be excited about it and have enough time to execute a recipe. If I feel rushed in any way, I get frustrated and start making stupid mistakes. Baking is more of my thing, but I wanted to make a nice meal since good food is even better than good chocolate, at least when it comes to my husband. The end result?

カレーオムライス (Curry omu-rice) with heart hamburgers & a light salad! Making just hamburger, curry, or omu-rice by themselves seemed a bit too simple, so I combined all three! The process wasn't difficult, just time consuming. Matt was impressed and thankfully, everything tasted good. I asked him how the meal was on a scale of 1-10, and he said it was a 10!!! Keep in mind that he's a pretty harsh critic and the best I've ever made is an 8.5 or a 9.

Otherwise, our Valentine's Day was quiet and uneventful. Last week we took trip to Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture in Japan. I'm still processing photos and video, but they should be up by the weekend!

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