Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nara Food Festival

Before I write about the Nara food festival, I need to tell you about Kansai Scene and a festival we went to around last November. Kansai Scene is an English language magazine published in Japan for ex-pats. It is our go-to place when we're looking for events in the area. Last November I had read about a festival happening in Kyoto that sounded like the Japanese equivalent of a Renaissance Fair. There was going to be dudes in Samurai costume sword fighting, food booths, traditional entertainment like acrobatics, etc. I was really excited. Some of you may be wondering why we never made a blog post about it. The answer is it was pretty disappointing. There was traditional entertainment, however most of it was storytelling, not so good for non-Japanese speakers, there were two food booths offering chestnuts or sweets, an origami booth, and some traditional Japanese souvenir booths. There wasn't even the Japanese equivalent of the giant turkey legs you can get at a Ren Fair, the biggest reason for going to one in my opinion. There was also NO samurai stuff, at all. When we got home I re-read the Kansai Scene description to prove I hadn't gotten confused, it was just way off. So now we've learned to take what we read in the Kansai Scene with a giant grain of salt.

Now on to the Nara food festival which was described as a place where chefs from all over Japan would be showing off their cooking skills and food, both local and international, would be available. When I read about it I joked that there would be 5 booths. Craig checked on the Japanese webpage for the event and it looked like the description so we decided to give it a try. It was held in a beautiful, deer-free park in Nara. The park was also hosting a flower festival so there were tons of big, colorful flower arrangements planted through out. The food festival did, in fact, consist of more than 5 booths. I would say there were 20ish but I didn't see any chefs showing off their skills, unless you count guys pushing around frying fatty pieces of chicken with tongs. Suffice it to say, the festival was not what we expected but the weather was perfect, the park with all the flowers was beautiful, and we still got to enjoy some tasty food. Also, Nara doesn't have nearly the foreigner population, we were the only white people we saw all day so Gus, of course, was repeatedly told how cute he was.

Don't worry, the boy was slathered with sunscreen - repeatedly.

Do you see the little boy looking at Craig. Little kids were really curious about us. They'd often run up to get a look at Craig and I and then try to sneak a peak at Gus. We'd hear them say things in Japanese like "Americans?" and we'd respond in Japanese which they thought was just hilarious.

This is a tofu sandwich. The tofu is the "bread" and inside is ground pork, potatoes and ginger.
There was a lake with the ubiquitous koi fish and lots of turtles.

The food festival.

We just thought this was funny. Inside the big stall there was a grown-up sized toilet, sink, baby changing table, and little kid sized toilet and sink. It was totally full service.

Here I am with a more traditional Japanese snack, a roasted fish on a stick. It was apparently so strange to see a white person eating a fish on a stick that a Japanese woman asked if she could take my picture while I was eating it. I ate all of it except the bones and head, I'm apparently too American to look my food directly in the eye before taking a bite.