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Disclaimer: The Uryu school district mostly provides fairly tasty meals in relatively generous portions. And their chicken curry is excellent.

That said: Today's main dish was cream gratin baked in a crab shell.

Firstly, I don't like cream gratin to begin with. It's a sort of...bland gooey white fat-gravy glop with bits of whatever mixed in. They scatter cheese over the top and bake it. The results taste like...gooey fat-gravy glop, with melted cheese on top.

Secondly, they served the meals really early today in the teacher's room, and by the time I'd brought mine to the first-year classroom and waited for the kids to get their act together and dish up their own meals, my fat-gravy glop had cooled and coagulated.

Thirdly, it was BAKED IN A CRAB SHELL. An actual crab shell, with the eyeballs still attached. To understand the full import of this, you must consider that I was raised on the Pacific Northwest coast. The beaches down there are often scattered liberally in summertime with legs-up crab carcasses, reeking colorfully in the sun. I played amongst these as a tot, picking them up by the legs when I felt daring and squealing with horrified glee when they fell apart in a stinking mess. I do not associate crab shells with the containment of anything edible except crab, and that only when there is no other alternative.

So there I was, trying lamely to scoop congealed white fat-glop full of random chewy bits (mostly corn and fragments of imitation crab) out of a whole crab shell, with chopsticks in whose wake the stuff disintegrated like, well, rotting crabmeat.

While my kids giggled.

Did I mention the side dishes were a whole fried fish that spilled over with eggs when I split it with my chopsticks, and watery soup with mushrooms in it? And broccoli boiled with fish flakes (the only part I enjoyed, but come to think of it, there's always fish flakes or bits of ham in with the veggies--it must suck to be a vegetarian in Japan). About the only way they could have made it worse would be if they served it with natto and shirako.

I'm still hungry. ;_;
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December 2011

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