Daily Bread

A typical three slice bread package (yes, the
bread is supposed to be greenish)
I like bread, but I am not obsessed with it by any means. When we first arrived, I was shocked to see how many varieties of bread there is in Japan. Not sweet rolls and bun-like baked goods (there are many different kinds of those), but sliced loaf style bread. I suppose I just assumed since it wasn't a traditionally Japanese food, there wouldn't be too many types. I still haven't tasted my way though all of the breads offered by our local supermarket, and for a culinary adventurer like myself, that makes me extremely happy. 

I have found that all of the bread here has its own unique qualities. Firstly, the slices are gigantic. They are 2 - 3x thicker than I was used to and usually longer as well. It would be almost insane to make a sandwich out of it because you would end up having a 7 cm. thick wall of bread before any fillings were added. I assume that the only thing that people do with sliced bread is make toast with it. There is actually special sandwich bread which is super thin, always white, and crustless. Stereotypically in Canada, only really picky young children
Sandwich bread 
demand crustless, white bread sandwiches, so it is interesting to live in country where that is the standard for everyone. I know that my step mother's tricky way of getting her kids to eat bread crust was telling them that is where all of the vitamins are. Brilliant! The bread is also extremely chewy and dense. It is not heavy, but a virtually airless thickness that requires a lot more chewing. The last observation I have made is that bread is generally not sold by the loaf. You can buy a package with anywhere between 3 and 6 slices in it. Considering how massive each slice is, 6 pieces can last quite a while.

Our current favourite: kurumi bread
Truthfully, I love the bread here. I find that my bread consumption has increased dramatically from back home. I probably eat a slice of toast at least four times a week, which is quite a bit more than I ever have. Our current favourite is kurumi, or walnut, bread. I am not sure what is all in it, other than flour and walnuts of course, but it makes a very nice toasting bread with honey. Our latest exploration on the bread front was a package of yomogi, or mugwort, bread. I don't think I had ever ingested, or even really ever though about mugwort prior to buying this bread. It had a greenish hue to it and a slightly sweet, leafy smell. The slices were especially giganitc; 18 cm. from top to bottom. Unfortunately, the flavour was rather unremarkable. Not bad, but there was very little difference between it and white bread.

Mugwort bread
The only drawback to the bread scene is the difficulty (or near impossibility) of finding nice crusty artisan loaves, french bread that isn't rubbery, and sourdough. If we ever have something to bake in that is larger than our toaster oven, I suppose I could mix something up, but until then I will think longingly of pumpernickel rye and ciabatta.


Carol said...

I checked out a book by the Baba a Louis man on how to make his bread. I was hoping to copy the recipe on their best-in-the-world french loaf, but it's about 20 pages of how to make it. It's not a recipe, it's a method. I will learn it!

You know, I am going to start telling you what my word verifications are - today it is one misspelling from a very naughty word. SHIESS

Anonymous said...

i totally hear you! although, i would gladly trade in our plethora of french bread (which we think is like eating crunchy air - you also have to eat it within 15 minutes of being baked or else it's like eating a porous stone) for some of that walnut bread, that sounds amazing!

I finally caved into my bread cravings and got a breadmaker to make my own. SOMEtimes we can find multi-grain and whole wheat flour and then we can have tolerably good bread for toasting.