Oh, Japan... ^__^
Was in Chicago this weekend for May convention planning. To me, this meant a rare opportunity to shop in the refrigerated section of the Japanese grocery store -- it's not all that often when the outside temperature is above freezing so as not to damage things like fresh shiso leaves, but also cool enough that things can survive the 5 hour round trip without going bad! So I stocked up. :3
For the uninitiated, let me introduce you to some Japanese food staples. (The common themes will become readily apparent, I suspect...)
Tatsukuri: Take small dried fish (large enough that you can still see the eyes looking at you). Make them into peanut brittle, only without the peanuts and with extra bonus soy sauce and anchovies.
Chirimen-jako: Take even smaller dried fish (generally too small to notice the eyes). Make them into sticky caramel sauce with fish wriggles in, with extra bonus soy sauce.
Sakura-denbu: Take dried fish of some sort that will end up essentially unrecognizable (no eyes this time!) Make them into cotton candy.
Kamaboko, narutomaki, and others: Take fish. Puree and cook it into something the approximate texture of a dried-out glue stick. Decorate it with festive pink and white stripes just for extra wtfery.
Tsukudani: Take something (it really doesn't matter what it used to be, because you won't be able to tell by the time it's done). Boil it into jelly with the assistance of a gallon of soy sauce.
Shibazuke: Take an eggplant and maybe some cucumber and shiso too. Pickle it and add blazing magenta food coloring.
Jyuuzen-nasu: Take an eggplant. Pickle it and add daaark navy blue food coloring.
Aojiso: Take some cucumber and some shiso (perilla) leaves - the green kind, not the red kind. Pickle them and add some really freaky dark-blue-green dye just to make totally sure nobody mistakes this for the blazing magenta version.
:3 Yeah this is pretty tongue in cheek, but the creepy part is I am not actually kidding with any of these. You can occasionally find Japanese pickles without buckets of food dyes added, but they're pretty rare, and I tend to pounce on anything that's been dyed with red cabbage juice just because it hasn't been dyed with stuff that starts with chemical identification numbers. XD I was bummed to discover they didn't have any shoyu-goma in stock (soy-sauce-roasted sesame seeds - think dry roasted peanuts only out of sesame). Maybe they needed more space for psychedelic colored pickles...