I finally took a camera to school today after a few days of deliberation: what would the teachers say? Will the PTA and/or police get involved? Will the children go nuts when they see a camera? I guess I'll find out. Today the 4th graders were quite sangfroid when I broke out the camera. The teacher noticed, and all I said was "I have...an idea..." and winked at him. This seemed to suffice.
The Japanese school lunch ritual will get its own posting, but for now it's safe to say many parts are inconsistent. Sometimes designated children quite properly (and oh so charmingly) announce the names of what we're about to eat. Sometimes tiny little voices emerge from the loudspeaker and do the same. Sometimes we simply chow down.
Today there was no announcement, but I asked the kids the names of the dishes anyway: [clockwise from rice]
-rice (gohan ご飯)
-grilled salmon (yakishake 焼鮭)
-braised burdock root (kinpira gobou 金平牛蒡)
-orange (orenji オレンジ)
-pickled vegetables (tsukemono 漬け物) [corrected 7/1: boiled vegetables (yude yasai ゆで 野菜)]
-milk -not pictured- (gyuunuu 牛乳)
The rice, pickled vegetables and grilled salmon were pretty standard, i.e. muy excelente. I was very happy my first posting also includes kinpira gobou. Not only did I find out the name today (after having eaten it maybe 3 or 4 times) but it's one of my favorites. As I'm learning myself, it's braised burdock root, kind of earthy and a bit oily. In most of my schools they mix it together with french fries, and something about adding the salty (day old?) fries makes for an incredible pairing!
Notice the hilarious "piano" desk I was eating upon. The kids are so thoughtful...