Saturday, September 10, 2011

back to school (lunch)

きゅうしょく "Kyuushoku" (school lunch) is a beautiful beautiful thing.  It saves me so much time and money!!  In Japan, all elementary and junior high schools serve school lunch, so none of the kids bring a home lunch.  This was shocking to me, because I always thought that kids in Japan always brought those awesomely cutesy bento boxes for lunch...

...but apparently only kids in high school really bring their own lunches.  Also, school lunch in Japan is quite different from what I'm used to.  There's no huge cafeteria (kids eat in the classrooms) and there's definitely no scary lunch lady/man.  Instead, each class gets a cart of food that comes in mass quantity (for example, the soup comes in a bucket, and the rice comes in a huge plastic box) and the kids take turns each day to do the lunch serving duties (something like below...img is just an example; those are not my kids)

So because I work only in elementary and junior high schools, I also get to enjoy these delicious and cheap (about 270 yen) lunches.  During the summer, the kids aren't around and so the school lunch is cancelled...and it really made me realize how much I enjoy these lunches! 

Also, some other things I find interesting about kyuushoku:

-they are apparently nutritionally balanced (there is a nutritionist at each school who works specifically with creating the lunch menus)

-they are usually around 700 calories (most female teachers complain about this and say that they gain weight from eating kyuushoku, but I usually go for the ones with the extra big portions haha)

-schools alternate between rice days and bread you're never stuck with eating bread or rice 5 days in a row

-here's the usual breakdown of my kyuushoku: some kind of soup, some kind of meat, some kind of veggie, bread or rice, a carton of milk, and sometimes if you're lucky...dessert!

Of course you get the occasional weird menu (some of these include cocoa dusted deep fried beans or cabbage mayonnaise salad topped with cornflakes or deep fried liver chunks coated in ketchup) but for the most part, I love whatever food they throw my way.  Glad I'm not a picky eater!!!

Here are some school lunches that I've taken pictures of...


Deep fried squid, tofu and beef stir fry, natto, and egg drop soup
Curry, boiled veggies with shoyu dressing, and a Swedish meatball (hard boiled egg stuffed into a meatball)

Grilled saba, hijiki, mini tomatoes, and miso soup

Miso katsu, mini tomatoes, some veggie stir fry, and some soup I don't remember


One of the best I've had so far:
Ramen, deep fried gyoza, veggies, and rice-flour bread

Hamburger, cucumbers, minestrone soup, shokupan (white bread), cheese, and melon

the extra large portion (a teacher was absent and i got the extras tee hee)
3 slices of bread, 2 slices of cheese, ginger pork, corn and cabbage salad, fruit cocktail

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