It's been a few weeks since we last spoke, did you miss me? (Don't answer, I know you did!) I've missed out on so much where do I begin???
If you're a sports fanatic, O'dell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants just dethroned the damn near invincible Cowboys. Klay Thompson had 60 points in 29 minutes, Russell Westbrook has been an automatic triple-double lately and Chris Paul just became the first player to ever record 20 points and 20 assists without a single turnover...let that sink in for a second. A point guard has the ball in his hands the majority of the game and to think he didn't cough it up or make a bad pass once is remarkable.
In non-athletic news, Kanye West suffered a mental breakdown (Let's pray for a safe recovery). Apple just released their newest MacBook Pro that features a new responsive "touchbar" located on the keyboard, meanwhile, I'm still typing away at the one I've had since college! And for my Torontonians, the first snowfall of winter has arrived...congratulations! Enjoy the next 4 months of shovelling snow and being secluded in the warmth of your home.😀
What's going on with me across the water you ask? A whole lot of the usual. The team has kind of hit a rough spot as we've fallen from 2nd to 4th in our conference. Nothing to stress about though, there's still a ton of basketball to be played; a winning streak here and there and we'll be right back in the hunt.
As you know, I'm a proud Canadian but I spent my high school and college years south of the border. I'm a self proclaimed honourary American - I just need to remember to pronounce the letter "Z" as "zee" as opposed to British way of "zed".
Thanksgiving just passed and a few folks on my social media timelines were not too thrilled with the thought of celebrating Thanksgiving given what's been happening with the whole 'Dakota Pipeline' ordeal.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop many from posting their plates full of turkey and alllll the fixings! I happened to be in Tokyo for a road game and got together with a friend of mine who had a "little" dinner get-together. It was kind of a last minute thing he whipped up but by the looks of it, you would have thought it was a catered event!
Courtesy of my snapchat story you can see we had "turkey, greens, roast beef, fine cheeses, shrimp, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy - YOU NAME IT!!!!" If you have no clue what I'm talking about, you either do not subscribe to social media or you were living under a rock during Thanksgiving. In either case, give that link a click to see where the hoopla originated. It was pretty funny at its inception but we as a culture just know how to over do things and run it into the ground. It seemed like everyone and their momma created a video meme about it.
In the local news, I finally tried ramen noodles! I like Japan and some of their dishes are pretty good but I, unfortunately, can be a bit of a skeptic when it comes to authentic delicacies. For example, I'm sure you would agree with the statement: I like Chinese food. Well, in 2012 I went to China for a 2 week basketball tour and believe me, authentic Chinese IS NOT Panda Express and orange chicken!
We've all had or at least seen the ramen noodle cups; the ones in your pantry that have been there since the beginning of time and seem too outdated to eat. Well, in Japan ramen is quite the opposite. It's a go-to staple! I call it Japans' fast food. My general rule-of-thumb when overseas is if I don't know what's in it, I'm not touching it. (Actually, that's my rule even when I'm back home come to think about it) But sometimes you have to let go of fears and jump in head first...or nah.
Me: Yeah, give it a try. It can't kill you to try something new
Inner Me: If you think for one second I'm touching that, *snaps fingers*, may thunder fire down upon you!
The language barrier doesn't allow me to even inquire what the ingredients in some dishes are, so I'm left to play the guessing game and roll the dice. I'm not much of a gambling man (although I did win $45 from the slots this summer in Vegas) so I tend to retreat to the 'lakes and rivers that I'm used to.'
But this time I was accompanied by our team translator and he was able to get the inside of scoop and I decided to live on the edge a bit and well...
This is not your top self ramen! Instead of the usual pork based broth, these delicious noodles are sitting in a sea of curry sauce. Curry is pretty big over here and is normally eaten with rice but some chef decided to make a soup broth out of it and I must say, he's a genius. For 150 yen you can add another helping of noodles to your bowl - I had 2 refills proudly. 😌
A question I get a lot is how do I order food at restaurants while not speaking Japanese. In most cases, the menu items are accompanied by pictures of each item. So it's nothing but a finger point and a head nod. They usually spit something back to me in Japanese to which I just pretend to understand in acknowledgement. Although, I'm always left to wonder, "What did I just agree to?"
In other cases, many quick eateries and highway service station restaurants operate with a purchased ticket mechanism. As you see on the left, menu items are pictured and with a particular number. That number corresponds with the machine on the right.
- purchase your desired meal,
- obtain your ticket
- hand ticket to store clerk
And within minutes your order is up.
As I've said to those who have previously inquired, "There are times I go out to eat and I don't utter a word."
Literally, no communication is needed. This is ideal when you're trying to serve many customers at a rapid pace. No small talk with the cashier, just efficiency! In other words, Japan in a microcosm.
I hope you you've enjoyed this entry. I try to keep things relevant so waiting the extra week or two really allowed me to give you authentic content. I appreciate you for staying patient and loyal. The journey continues.
If you'd like to follow my snapchat account, the handle is @O_Ash, as is my Instagram.
If you have any questions or topics you'd like me to discuss, do not hesitate to leave a comment!
Until the next time, thanks for embarking on this journey with me.