School Lunch Challenge…failed


Warning:  For those coming in search of pictures of delicious food, please don’t read the following post.  For those looking for some bizarre Japanese food, come on in, the water’s fine.


When I first got to Japan, I made a goal to try any food that was offered to me.  Sea snails (freshly cracked out of their shells and still alive), check.  Sea cucumber, check.  Shiokara (fermented salty squid), check.  I’ve encountered some of the grossest edible things I’ve ever seen, but stuck to my goal, tried not to think about the slimy mess in front of me, and ate the new food.

To up the ante on my food challenge, I told myself that I would eat every dish  that was served in kyuushoku (school lunch).  The main reason I took this challenge is that I think it sets a good example for the kids, who are made to sit at the lunch table until they finish every bite of their food.  Usually, completing my goal isn’t a chore at all.  I’ve had some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever encountered in Japan served to me in the lunchroom at school.  But it hasn’t all been easy.  I’m not a fan of shishamo (pregnant smelt fish) which are eaten with head, eyes, tail, bones…everything, intact.  As unappealing as shishamo is to me, I still manage to eat all of them when they are served in the school lunch.

Unfortunately, my undefeated school lunch record has come to an end.

School lunch, 1. Michelle, 0

…That’s a whole lot of squid.  And don’t get me wrong, I like squid.  Khoa and I even fish for it right outside of our house in the fall and winter.  But this is a whole squid, eyes, beak, innards, boney things and all.  It looks as if they took the squid, boiled it in salt water for a while, and put it on the plate.

I tried to eat it, I really did.  I didn’t want to break my goal, but when I started to get down to the body of the squid and mystery things were squirting out left and right, I had to call it quits.  Many of the usually strict teachers, enforcers of the “eat everything on your plate” rule, couldn’t even finish it.  3/4 of the students, unable to stomach the purple sea creature, left half eaten squid on their plates.

…one kid at three of them.

So good game, school lunch.  I fought hard, but in the end, you were victorious.  I’m still going to continue the challenge of eating everything at school, so long as my nemesis, whole boiled squid, doesn’t make another appearance.

Wish me luck!


6 thoughts on “School Lunch Challenge…failed

  1. kimtomorrow May 10, 2012 / 7:47 am

    (o O; ) i assume that it wasn’t just the looks that got you but the taste as well right? i’m curious to know how’d you describe… that taste….

  2. Eleenie May 10, 2012 / 3:50 pm

    I’d have quit at the first post, the sea snails! Well done to you for doing so well and good luck with your continuing school dinners, you’re setting a good example unlike me who would be onto packed lunches by now 😉

  3. kitsunedaifuku May 11, 2012 / 5:41 pm

    Eeeeep please tell me the average kyuushoku is a tad more appealing than that……….. Great post though 🙂
    I was wondering, in your experience how easy would it be to get away with not drinking the milk, can you pawn it off to a thirsty kid or would that be rude? The thought of drinking full cream milk all on its own makes my stomach turn more than that squid. I’m starting at my 2 shogakkou’s soon and if possible id like to let them know from day one i don’t drink milk all on its own……

    • youmeandatanuki May 12, 2012 / 9:30 am

      Usually kyuushoku is delicious! …the whole squid body kyuushoku was an exception.

      As for not drinking the milk, I’ve seen teachers take home parts of kyuushoku so they don’t have to eat it during lunch. For example, they can’t finish half of the rice, so they wrap it up and tell everyone they will eat it for dinner. I’ve also seen people take home milk. I think you could get away with “taking the milk home,” whether you actually drink it at home is up to you 😛 Use it for cooking maybe.

      Before coming to Japan, I absolutely hated white milk. Even when I was a kid, I would only drink chocolate milk. For the first two weeks of kyuushoku, I would always struggle to finish the milk, but I eventually got used to it. Now I actually enjoy it 😛 Give it a try, you might like him.

      • kitsunedaifuku May 12, 2012 / 11:11 am

        Ah this seems like good advice, new experiences what JETs all about right =p
        I like the idea of taking half the rice home though. Those meals look calorie intense!

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