3 hours from here sits a little store that imports packaged foods from Japan. Now i have spent most of my life eating fruits and vegetables from half way around the world. If you want to gain my heart just show up with a jack fruit or a lotus root in hand and i will love you forever. However, my introduction to the packages foods of Japan is fairly recent. I had no idea that food shipped from half way around the world could taste so good and i had no idea of the Japanese commitment to flavor when creating foods. Just mention that store and i start salivating involuntarily in response. My first introduction to Japanese packaged food was these little tiny individually wrapped savory crackers. I couldn’t figure out why each one was wrapped like a precious candy until i bit into one. It was so flavorful and so crunchy. I was going to eat just one and save the rest for a side to soup but quickly decided these crackers should never ever be wasted as a side to anything. They were the most delicious food i had ever put in my mouth. I quickly realized it was a good thing i didn’t live in Japan because i would be absolutely broke from buying these crackers every hour of the day. It was such a tragic moment when they were all gone.
The next thing i discovered was packaged “miso soup”. I knew miso soup to be a dry powder in a little packet with some microscopic green bits sprinkled in there. This was a completely different thing entirely. There were all these different packets with things to add and each one made it sooooo much better. There were green onions, multiple types of seaweed, these beautiful little see-through pink shavings which i later learned were fish flakes, and a dark brown paste that proved to me i had better not even call the powdered version miso anymore. I added peanuts and purple sweet potato noodles along with avocado. It was literally a flavor explosion in my mouth with every bite. From what i could see, everything i put in my mouth that came from Japan involved the words “flavor explosion”. I worried for my bank account next time i went to the city. I would likely return with thirty of these packaged soup things in the trunk of my car. I couldn’t see how i wouldn’t. And oh those crackers. Those beautiful beautiful crackers. I wondered how many of those things a tiny strip mall store might have in stock at once.
Two things i don’t have pictures of here are Japanese imported peanuts and imported tea. I had some peach oolong tea and some green tea. The peach oolong tea smelled exactly like fresh ripe backyard peaches and it was so beautiful and fruity. It filled the whole room with its aroma. The green tea was so fresh it was smooth and buttery and not bitter at all. The peanuts were huge and smooth, not tiny and powdery like the ones i am used to. They were so so so crunchy they redefined my idea of what a peanut was. I suddenly realized that every other peanut i had ever tasted had been stale. These peanuts were so crunchy they were like chips and the flavor was so amazingly peanutty! The peanuts featured in the picture above are not these peanuts. If i ever find them again, i will know them. They were GIANT peanuts, shiny and smooth and so peanutty. Any culture that puts this amount of effort into food has automatically gained my respect. So, though i know little about Japanese culture or language, for the crackers alone, i LOVE that country.