Living here has taught me a thing or two about survival – not in the physical sense, but rather the ability to accept and even welcome a certain degree of emotional vulnerability into everyday life. Last winter, I was a newcomer in a foreign land, unemployed, and very, very cold all the time. By the time March rolled around, I wasn’t sure why I was in Japan at all. This winter, I have a job (not to mention wonderful colleagues), a cozy (read: 15 m2) apartment, and most importantly, a small sense of belonging. I’m still cold much of the time, but there are many other things to be thankful for.
Lest you think everything is peachy-keen here on the food front here, let me clarify one thing: some foods that I consider staples are frustratingly hard to find, not to mention painfully expensive once you do find them. Foremost among these items is cheese, which remains a sore subject for me. However, what I’d like to talk about today is peanut butter, something I’m sure many American ex-pats miss as much as I do
When I first arrived in Japan and was feeling particularly homesick, I ventured to the grocery store in search of some familiar, trusty PB. What I ended up buying was “peanut cream” (ピーナッツクリーム), a pale, gooey, heavily sweetened and cornstarch-thickened affair vaguely reminiscent of wood glue in both color and texture. This was a mistake I would not repeat.