Tuesday, November 16, 2004

How to fry an octopus


The end is in sight for my stay at the hostel, as on Thursday (day after tomorrow) I pick up the keys to my Paddington flat. I'll probably move on Friday, not that it will take long. But like I said, I don't mind staying in the hostel - I'm certainly meeting plenty of people. From what I can gather, it's unusually quiet in the hostels for this time of year - but in dorm 11 of my hostel, we've certainly had plenty of people coming and going. It must be about 15 (all men) since I arrived, almost four weeks ago. At the moment there's just three of us (the dorm sleeps six, in three bunk beds). Rob from near Derby who's been there since September, and a Japanese lad called Kuni who arrived a few days ago. I was talking to him today, he's in the midst of a year touring Australia and is about to fly down to Tasmania to pick fruit for a while as he's run out of money.

As I'm going to Japan next year, I was asking him questions on where to go - and by a stroke of luck it turned out he works as a tour guide, working on buses covering the whole of Eastern Japan. He keeps apologising for his English, which is very good - although when I explained I was a 'statistical researcher ', that had him reaching for his dictionary. One thing we talked about was Japanese food - he seemed bemused that I like it. When I told him I was thinking of going to Osaka, he started talking about the local dish, Okonomiyaki. He tried to explain what it was - "You know octopus? Take that...with wheat flour. Put on hot plate, no water" One of his favourites, he was talking about Takoyaki. A quick Google later (Japan consumes 60% of the global octopus catch) I discovered it's essentially a savoury pancake with all kinds of fillings, octopus is just one variety. After seeing the little guys swimming about in the Aquarium the other day, I was pleased when Kuni told me that Okonomiyaki is also made with other meats, and vegetables...