Even though it was January 2nd, the ryokan still served us a New Year’s breakfast.
On to the photos!
It started with this soup, which they said was a New Year special soup. (Although not the other New Year soup, more about which in a minute.)
This is a clear, subtly flavored broth with some sort of vegetable and a small pickled plum, served with tea.
Then they brought up this decanter, and said it was a special New Year liquor. We think it was maybe plum wine.
Aaaaaand then they brought up the rest of the meal, in three or so trips.
What I didn’t tell you previously is that the meals are brought to your room by a woman in full formal kimono (note: not a geisha, also note that you have to take tiny steps in it) who does the thing you see in Japanese movies about the feudal era where she kneels, sets the tray down, slides the door open, picks the tray up, stands up, steps through the door, kneels down, sets the tray down, slides the door shut, picks the tray up, stands up again, walks the five steps or so to your table, kneels, sets the tray down, and then serves you. My thighs were protesting just watching that.
So here’s a photo of the result of all those squats:
Anyway…first, the bowl on the far right at bottom that my chopsticks are resting on, with the gnawed-on potato inside. They first brought us the New Year’s soup that Japanese people eat for luck, much like black-eyed peas in the U.S. south: ozoni. It varies from place to place, and we had bowls at the hotel in Hiroshima that were a bit different. This one was a milky soup (from miso) with a big chunk of sweet potato in it, and a big mochi (pounded rice) dumpling, that was seared on one side. The dumpling was very thick and gelatinous and almost impossible to bite and chew. Toby says texture wise it was a cross between Jello and chewing gum. Apparently people die every year from choking on it, and according to the BBC, this year, nine people died from choking on it.
Next we go to the small dish my chopsticks are pointing to. We don’t remember much about that, just that the green stuff was greens of some sort, and we think the white thing was a vegetable, rather than fish.
The small cup with the gold inside next to that was what we were drinking our special New Year liquor from. The cups were made of a segment of bamboo that was gilded or painted on the inside.
Just to the left of that tray is the bowl of rice, and the red and white thing, which contained azuki beans in a thick, sweet sauce.
Just up from that, in the rectangular container, is three small dishes. You’ll need to look at Toby’s box to really see the contents. The thick yellow stuff in the middle is cold roe. I’m not sure what the three things that look like little logs are, but i’m assuming burdock root because I assume all sticklike things are burdock root at this point. The small pile of thin sticklike things is dried sardines–the entire fish so you have a pile of tiny eyes looking at you, for those of you with trouble eating things with their faces still on. My problem with them wasn’t the face, but that they were just too dry for my taste.
After they brought that up, we thought that was a fine, large breakfast. THEN CAME THE SUKIYAKI. Over there on the far left, somewhat blurry, is a very hot pot of thinly-sliced beef, cooked along with noodles, onion, and eggplant. That was the pioint at which I posted that the food just wouldn’t stop coming.
It did stop coming after that, and we managed to finish about three-quarters of it, and declared ourselves satisfied.
EDIT: I knew I’d forget something! The yellow dish on the right. Those two things on it are basically fish sausage. Not my favorite, really. You usually see it (well, in anime at least!) in small disks floating in ramen, and I don,t even really like it then. Larger chunks like these: bleh.
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