One of the reasons why my host mum was amazing is because she is a really good cook, whipping out new delicious Japanese dinners every night. And so, when I ran out of my favourite breakfast cereal, thanks to it being seasonal *sigh*, my host mum started cooking breakfast for me again. One morning, to make me feel more at home perhaps, she decided to make me bacon and eggs.
As I was walking to the breakfast dining table, I was excited. I love bacon and eggs. It’s one of the few things I know how to cook, thanks to the fact that I like cooking myself breakfast, whether that’s some egg dish, baked beans on toast, or pancakes.
I was expecting some form of the western bacon and eggs pictured above. But… that’s not what was presented to me.
Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong, the bacon and eggs weren’t too bad. But I consider myself as a bacon and egg connoisseur, and that inner connoisseur in me was screaming protest!
“Ketchup,” was the first thing she said to me as she handed me the plate. She was smiling to herself and cheekily glancing at me like we were sharing some inside joke, which, in a way, we were. She grew to know me as someone who really likes ketchup.
BUT THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE. And on my bacon and eggs is not one of those places! Not to mention it was enough ketchup to be the dip for an army’s worth of fries.
I started scrambling for the cutlery, relief washed over me as I found a fork, half expecting chopsticks. But, there wasn’t a knife. I repeat, there wasn’t a knife. Let me just say that if you don’t need both a fork and knife to eat your bacon and eggs with, somethings very wrong.
While I was having this internal battle over the cutlery, she told me how I won’t need to butter my bread because there is “already lots of butter inside it”. Please don’t tell me… please don’t tell me that it’s sweet bread! It was.
Okay. Savoury toast with butter is by no means the same as sweet bread. And let’s not forget to mention that, after all this, the bread wasn’t even toasted…
Under the sad single egg (you need, like, at least two eggs for a proper bacon and eggs meal), there were four trips of bacon. Well, that’s what she called it. It looked like a slice of ham cut into four strips. They were so thin that I bet if you held them up to the light you would be able to see through. And on top of her choice for bacon, she thought that only four thin strips of it would be enough.
This is not how you do bacon and eggs. I didn’t even know there was a way until those unspoken rules of portioning, ingredients and dining wear were completely disregarded and thrown to the wind.
Just NO, No, no.
This made me realise that while my host mum is a really good Japanese food cook, translating those skills into cooking foods from other cultures is not as black and white as it seems. Cooking intercultural foods, in my opinion, would only be successful if people are explicitly taught, by an insider of that culture, what goes and what doesn’t with a certain dish.
I had no idea how much food was culturally informed until, like my bacon and eggs, it was informed by the wrong culture; Japanese culture.
Until next time,