My last post was about the Japanese school lunch, but truth be told, there is a heck of a lot of delicious snacks that I eat daily in school. In general, the teachers are totally snack crazy. Just eating in general excites them – I guess that is a universal theme! 😉
Before I went to Japan, I pretty much cut most sugar out of my diet. That plan pretty much died a premature death once I started teaching in Japan… every day I was stuffed with tons of sugary treats with my daily tea or coffee. From biscuits to cookie to cake… I had it all on the daily.
I developed a pretty hardcore addiction to green tea lattes during this period. I had to have my fix every day. Literally! They also introduced me to royal milk tea… which is another sugary treasure that I miss.
All of the snacks that we get at the school are homemade, which is so awesome. They really pay attention to what they are giving the kids. I was able to try some interesting snacks that were both sweet and savory. Since it was chestnut season, they gave us chesnut mochi for snack one evening. I’m not really a fan of mochi, with it’s chewy texture, but I became obsessed with chestnuts!
On the very first day at my school, our snack was boiled chestnuts. I didn’t think much of it, but boiled chestnuts are seriously one of the most delicious snacks I’ve ever eaten. And they are healthy! So simple too… just boil some chestnuts.
A lot of the time the snacks that we would get would have some type of pork product, so I would get a substitute snack. I actually didn’t mind and looked forward to those days, because I got THE BEST snack ever on those days. Onigiri… another iconic Japanese food. Onigiri is basically a triangle of rice that has a filling inside it or combined with it.
The kids love onigiri so much… they would get so jealous when I got onigiri and they didn’t. They keep asking the teacher why I got onigiri, with such an envious look! 😛 At the end of our lunch time, the teacher would often combine any leftover food with the leftover rice and shape them into onigiri triangles. The kids always lined up to get one, even if they were full! Such is the magic of an onigiri. 😉
I figured out really quick that almost all of the bread products that they used had gelatin in them, so I couldn’t ever eat them. Sometimes I felt sad because some snacks looked so delicious! I still thought it was amazing that the cooking teacher prepared all of their meals from scratch for health reasons. I definitely felt a deeper understanding of what I was eating. Not something I can say for a lot of food that we eat here in the states with their mysterious ingredients.
Hands down, one of my favorite snacks was the fruit cocktail salad. Well, most of it anyways. The salad was a mixture of fruit pieces and jelly in fruit juice. Jelly is pretty popular here, and I can actually eat it because a lot of their jelly uses a type of extract from seaweed in place of the gelatin. Jelly is everywhere in the dessert aisle! I’m actually not a fan of jelly, so I usually pawned off as much of mine as I could on my co-teacher. 😀
One word… nasty. This is one that I never liked, but I still ate it to be polite. Turns out, nobody likes this snack. I was talking with a few of the teachers and they told me that no one really likes these little fish with almonds, even the teachers. Apparently it is nutritious, so we just have to suck it up!
There are some exceptions to the homemade food rule however. On the days where the children have a festival or other time consuming activity, the cooks are really busy preparing all of the food. During those times, we get a rare packaged food. It is usually a custard tart or something similar. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does! I was excited, but surprisingly the kids were pretty blah about it. Could it be they are used to foods that aren’t processed, and actually prefer it?
All of the snacks are bite-sized, which is perfect. I feel like being in Japan has forced me to get my portion sizes right. When I first got here, I remember seeing my plate at lunch and thinking I would never be able to survive on so little food throughout the day… three months in and I have no idea how I was eating so much before!
Hmm, this post is making me hungry. I think it’s snack time! 😉
What are some of your favorite snacks?