By the time 6:30 am rolls around, I’m tiring of both working out and all of the morning news shows. The news generally runs out within ten minutes of the start of the broadcast, and the broadcast never covers world news. Channel surfing landed me on NHK World, where there is both world news and the weather everywhere — everywhere! — in Celsius. I know 37 degrees = 98 degrees F, but for the rest, I have to guess.
Then at 6:30 am, NHK airs cooking shows. I absolutely love Lunch ON!, which features not only lunch, but the lives of the people making and eating it. Top it off with a overly eager narrator who really piles on the flourishes and you’ve got the beginnings of a great day. Not that I wouldn’t watch it ALL day, because I would.
This morning the listing for NHK said, Viewers’ Choice, so I saw Seasoning the Seasons instead. This episode showed Ekiben — bento boxes one eats while traveling — from around Japan. The cuisines differ based on region and history within the prefectures. In the process, the show also visited artisans making koji, cooking sake, and the bento boxes themselves.
Koji is the base for soy sauce and miso, made by fermenting soy beans and cracked wheat in a place where the air is rich with wild yeasts and microbes, or by inoculating the mixture with them. I never forget koji because I missed a question about it on a test once. Cooking sake is fermented sushi rice.
This had me wondering about avoiding gluten in Japan, and I came across an interesting post about how deceptively difficult it can be to avoid it here and here. Though I really wish I could enjoy more of the food, and would search long and hard for a good mochi, I would endure rice and SoyJoy bars for a long while if I could visit Japan.