East Meets West Meets East

My time in Tokyo.

Would you like the receipt in the bag?

Let's talk about food shopping. There were only so many days that we could eat out every night. We knew that we would eventually have to give in to the weekly shop.

But what does it all mean?!

It was just endless shelves of packaging with the eloquently presented Japanese language printed on the front.

There were approximately 22 different types of noodle and endless rows of dried miso soup. It was hard enough trying to pick a restaurant to eat in, never mind trying to decipher whether something really is cheddar and not tofu. And let's not talk about the sauces and oils. I've spent a lot of quality time with Google trying to figure things out.

The upside? Vegetables are vegetables and fruit is fruit. And you can, mostly, establish where the beef is in relation to the pork, chicken and fish.

Even though you can't read anything, you know that that is green tea and just judging by some of the images on the packaging you can work a few things out.

The Japanese have definitely got a couple things figured out though. Four pieces of bread in a packet - inspired. For someone like me who is both addicted to bread and allergic to wheat, this is consumption control at its best.

And the best part? Check-out efficiency. No one is waiting for that person at the end of the till to pack their bags. No, no. You carry your shopping to an off-to-the-side packing area.

There is one, key, mythical question: is it really bacon? I'll let you know when I find an answer. I suppose, if our shopping failures continue, and we still don't know what 'would you like your receipt in the bag' is in Japanese, we shall fear not, for there are always the vending machines.

These masterfully built machines contain absolutely everything and anything I could ever need. There is even underwear available should you need it. And let's not forget the array of shops selling fruit that amounts to my monthly salary. This must have been the sole mango to grow on this particular tree in the month of May.

But, alas, one cannot live on vending machine alone. One must interact by flinging arms and saying the incorrect words in Japanese, and hopefully, leave with milk and not a yoghurt drink (we can confirm that said yoghurt drink in a cup of coffee does not result in a consumable beverage).

When I do figure out exactly what to buy and what to avoid I'll let you know, but for now, let the trial and error continue.

Maxine Cheyney