Thursday, July 21, 2011

CommisSCARY Alternatives

If you are not familiar with military life you probably have NO idea what people are talking about when they mention things like LES, commissary, BX (or PX), BAH, COLA, etc. Well, friends, here's a quick rundown before getting into the heart of my lovely little post:
LES: Leave and Earnings Statement> Basically a pay stub.
Commissary: Better known as the CommisSCARY! This is our grocery store on base. I say commisscary because it is not uncommon to see mothers frantically chasing after and yelling at their children among the hustle and bustle of aisles.
BX or PX: Base Exchange, where we can by anything from *terrible variety of * clothes, shoes, household things, etc.
BAH: Base Allowance for Housing (in Japan you get OHA, Overseas Housing Allowance, if you live off base) this is what the government pays you to cover the cost of your housing. Since we live on base, we never see this, our housing is just free.
COLA: Cost of Living Allowance. What the government pays us to offset the cost of living (i.e. the purchases we make out in town/for utilities at the yen rate, etc.)

So anyway, the commisSCARY sounds like a great option, and in the states it usually is. In Okinawa, however, the produce is TERRIBLE because of a few reasons: the time it takes to ship here, usually from off island, and the high price. Green bananas are brown within two days, I found a bag of salad mix the other day that was set to expire the NEXT day, 4 apples can cost around $8, I have seen strawberries as high as $12....very discouraging for people who are trying to eat fresh produce! I had been so frustrated that I started buying all my fruit and veggies frozen. What was my other option?

Behold, the local produce. Why didn't I think of it sooner? The locals buy fruit and veggies from a variety of places, including Suupa's (Super Markets, duh!) and fruit stands. Frustrated with our choice of produce on base, Jess and I went in search of a fruit stand nearest us.

Bear in mind, I have no idea what this place was called, but it was a cute little fruit stand off a back road. They had everything from onions (tamanegi), tomatoes, potatoes (Jagaimo), green onions (Negi), carrots (Ninjin, which are HUGE over here), lettuce, and all kinds of fruit. The cost is marked in Yen (which right now is about 80Y/1USD, so those tomatoes on the back left hand side which were 100Y were actually only about $2-3. Not molding, for a big bunch of them.
Everything was fresh and looked yummy! They also had some Japanese staples like Goya, a bitter melon that I'm NOT fond of, as well as some fruit that I still don't know the name of.

I walked away with a big bunch of bananas, tomatoes, 4 kiwi, and a bag of these tiny round, maroon-ish colored fruits that have the texture of....a nectarine on the outside and bright red flesh on the inside.....All for 847Y...which is about $11. Not too Shabby! I will definitely be frequenting the fruit stands more.

This is the fruit I was a bit confused about....Any ideas?

We also ventured into Jimmy's, a restaurant/bakery. The breads and croissants and muffins looked DELICIOUS, but since I'm trying to watch the calories a bit I decided not to get anything....this time :) There was also a grocery store and I found THIS:
Ochazuke! My grandma used to make this for us when we'd go visit her and it was my faaaav! I remember eating it for lunch AND breakfast! This ochazuke came in a big package with 8 packets of ochazuke, enough for about one bowl/meal. The ochazuke packet contains dry nori (seaweed), J-Crackers, tea, and some seasoning. Empty the packet over cooked, cooled rice (perfect with leftover rice!), and add boiling water. It is a delicious soup!

Ochazuke is a comfort food for a lot of Japanese people and mother's often make it for their children. I did a little research and found that Ochazuke is commonly eaten for breakfast, though a lot of people make it before they go to bed.

BONUS: Ochazuke is available in the states in many Asian specialty stores. I found it in Salem and Portland at various times as well as in Pensacola! See if you can find it yourself :) If anyone tries it let me know what you think!

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