Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clean Fast Food?!?!

Just thought I'd give everyone a little update from Okinawa. I have had some questions regarding the radiation, Okinawa is still safe! :)
Since we arrived we've been hearing so much about the McDonald's here. Everyone we talk to says it is much better than the McDonald's in the states, something about the meat tasting different. Turf and I don't eat much fast food in the states, I actually don't think I've had McDonald's for 2 years (aside from shakes or a snack wrap), so we thought we'd give it a try and we both ordered a quarter pounder with cheese. The meat did taste a little better, sort of like a Wendy's burger, but all in all, we didn't notice a huge difference. But, we did get started on a conversation about the differences in cleanliness in Japan and American restaurants, particularly fast food!
Looking in the window at the drive-through's in the states, you often see french fries on the floor, employees with loose hair, stained uniforms, etc. Looking in the windows here, we saw a spotless floor, employees hair pulled tightly back or wearing hair nets, and the uniforms were very clean and nice (not just black slacks and a polo t-shirt, but actual uniforms). It made us feel a lot better about eating the food, because we knew it was clean.
We have also been very impressed with the way people at restaurants behave here. They are so welcoming and hospitable. As we are leaving, every single person we can see turns around to say "ARIGATO!!!" If we have finished our food and are just sitting and chatting, they bring out little mini desserts at no charge. AND, they find it offensive to tip! Its amazing.
After eating in one of these friendly restaurants, I decided I'd like to try to make some sushi at home, just for the thrill. It ended badly. Maybe I used too much rice, and I think I bought the wrong type of nori (as I was looking closer I realized the sheet broke into strips!), but I could not create a roll. This has now become a goal of mine before I leave: to be able to make some rockin' sushi!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taco Rice and Lots and Lots of Garlic!

In addition to my "places I want to see" and "things I want to do" lists, I have now created a "places I want to eat" list. Total fat kid status, and I am having to intensify my work outs and cut down on what I'm eating during the week as a result, but its also totally worth it!

So I have a new favorite food: TACO RICE
No, I'm not talking about Spanish rice that you get in a mexican restaurant. I'm talking about basically the ingredients of a taco slammed on top of rice.
Taco rice is a very popular Okinawan dish. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but at lunch with some girls the other day I had some delicious taco rice and it has officially won my heart. I highly encourage all my lovely friends and family back in the states to make this dish at home- it is super delicious and so simple! Taco Rice is definitey on the menu for dinner tonight, but as I'm trying to eat better I might try to make it with brown rice and groud turkey instead. Maybe. I'm not sure if I want to ruin an amazing thing! Here is the link I'm using as a recipe:

Turf and I went out with another couple this weekend to a restaurant called Arin Krin, otherwise known as the garlic restaurant. Yes, garlic. The building comes complete with giant garlics painted all over the outside. The menu was very extensive and most dishes cost around $4-$7, so we ordered several different things to sample: Garlic Pizza, Baked Garlic, Garlic Noodles with Bacon, and Sweet and Sour Chicken (yes, with garlic). In the picture are some garlic fries and garlic steak that Kendall and Trevor ordered in addition to their own garlic pizza and a different variety of noodles.
The food looked delicious, but tasted just good. This may have been a result of the massive overload of garlic that we were experiencing, and the meal was pretty much void of any other flavor besides garlic. I liked the pizza the best, but think I probably could have made something similar myself. The sweet and sour chicken is unlike the sweet and sour in the states. This had more of a peanut sauce/maple syrup/garlicy flavor. Turf really enjoyed it- it wasn't my favorite. This is definitely a place you can only go to once in a while, but I think we may go back just to sample some of the other items on the menu.
The baked garlic was probably the most interesting item. It was just that: two bunches of garlic baked and served on top of corn. It had some sort of sauce on it, and you just pull out the cloves and eat them with the corn. Surprisingly, it didn't taste a whole lot like garlic! They also had deep fried garlic, which I might try ;)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake and Tsunami

First of all we feel so blessed to have so many friends and family who care about us. Thank you to everyone who called or tried to check in with us!
Yesterday was an awesome day up until around 4:00. I went to the gym with some of the girls I met here, we went out to lunch and had a lot of fun, then I came home to check on Boomer quickly before I headed on to the health clinic (side note: I have to have a ridiculous serious/number of shots in order to get my health card for my new job: Child and Youth Program Technician at the base Teen Center. Basically I will do some paperwork/spend time with the teens).
As I was talking with the occupational health administrator marines started evacuating the building. We actually had no idea what was going on, until a marine ran past the door and asked if we heard the announcement (we didnt) that there was a tsunami warning and that we had to evacuate to higher ground. There were some people literally running out of the building, which was kind of freaky, but once I got out to my car the base itself seemed pretty calm. I tried to call Turf and my call wouldn't go through (we later found out that our cell phone provider was down because of the quake in Japan).
I vaguely could hear the loudspeakers on base as I was driving back to our apartment, but I heard them say that floors 1-4 should evacuate higher than the tsunami flood line, which is right above our tower. At this point, I hadn't heard about the earthquake yet, and was thinking this was just a precaution and wasn't a real big deal. I was honestly planning on watching what other people in my building were doing, and if I didn't see many people evacuating I was going to stay home as long as I could. Smart, right?
When I pulled into the parking lot I saw Turf's car in the driveway and knew that it must be a little more serious than I had thought. He had been trying to call me and was upset because he thought I was still at lunch with the girls and wasn't answering my phone, so he had come home to pick up Boomer. We grabbed my car and drove up to a higher spot on base.
At this point, there was still about an hour before the tsunami was supposed to hit, so we ended up going to one of the other bases that sits higher up and farther inland to have dinner and watch a basketball game with a couple of the guys Turf works with. As we were driving up there, we noticed the Okinawan locals shopping leisurely, jogging, and just walking around town. We have always been told to gague our "panic level" on what the locals are doing, so I still wasn't too worried.
Around 9 we tried to come home and were told that we were still on a tsunami warning and couldn't go back to our apartment. We also found out that the waves that hit us were little ripples and nothing serious. We hung out around on base and found families sleeping with their children in cars and many of the single marines sleeping with blankets out in the field. Finally, around 11 we were able to go home. We spent about an hour unpacking our shipment of stuff that just got here before we headed to bed.
This morning we woke up and started watching the news, really for the first time about the disaster in Japan. We are seeing footage of the actual quake (so glad we didn't have to experience that, so sorry for those who did) and the tsunami wiping out houses and cars (again, so glad we did not have to go through that, totally terrifying). We are hearing about the death toll rising and the concerns about fires and the nuclear plant that was effected. We are very lucky to not have felt such a huge quake or experienced such a big tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Japan as things continue to unfold.