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Elementary School Lunch: 03/19 - Katsu and Happiness

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

Since today's lunch was the very last elementary school lunch for the 6th graders who are graduating tomorrow, we went with a luck and happiness theme. Instead of regular rice, we had sekihan, which is sticky rice cooked with azuki beans. It gives the rice a red color, which signifies happiness in Japan - this rice is for celebrations. To top it, we got some black sesame seeds and coarse salt for flavor. Our main plate had some pork and lotus root katsu (breaded and deep-fried), and salad. The katsu is significant because it's a homophone with the word in Japanese for winning. One of the little fun things Japanese do say, before a big exam, is enjoy some katsudon (katsu rice bowl). We had some today to wish the 6th graders (soon to be junior high 1st graders) good luck.

The salad was a plain one: some napa cabbage, carrot, and cucumber seasoned with sesame seeds. We had some kenchin soup, which is a root veggie sort of soup in a konbu (kelp) broth. In it, we enjoyed some tofu, taro, konjac, burdock root, carrot, onion, and more cabbage. It was simple and tasty, and went really well with the rest of our meal.

Finally, dessert! We had a little strawberry frozen jelly cup with a little bit of cream on top. The dessert was お祝い (oiwai) - celebratory. Like the katsu and the rice, this was also a significant dish that was worked into our lunch in honor of our graduating students. On the cup's lid it also says "congratulations."

Very tasty meal! As a reminder, Monday is the last day of school lunches, and this column will stop being a regular thing after that. Tomorrow there is no school lunch; staff are going to eat bentous (packed lunches), so I'll show you what that looks like. I actually have no idea what they've ordered, but usually it has a little bit of everything.

Aaah!

Calorie count: 692