Doom, Gloom, and the Yaki Imo Man

Trees right side up

Yesterday was officially the bleakest day of this winter yet. Just look at the sky below. Is it not blinding and oppressive?

I am officially back in the land of the healthy, after a ridiculously long bout of the flu and an almost two-week stay in delirium country, entirely due to my not getting any sleep as my lungs were too busy trying to expel themselves right out of my body (i.e., lots of pretty hacking) on a nightly basis, bless them.

Oh, hey, the gyoza man is driving by. You know how in the United States there's the ice cream man in the white truck that plays a rather creepy, tinkly tune (at least the ice cream trucks in Manhattan did)? Well, it's very common in Tokyo to hear the pre-recorded cry of someone selling something from their van. The most traditional wares are yaki imo, which are freshly roasted sweet potatoes (there's a wood-burning stove in the back of the truck), and laundry lines. And now gyoza.

The funny thing is that the vendors all sing the exact same song, regardless of what they're selling--they just change the words to fit the croon. And your day is not complete unless you hear it for yourself. I just found this excellent clip--very exciting--so, you must go here and see the yaki imo truck and hear the yaki imo song. You really must.

Hmm, curry gyoza? That's what I just heard out my window. It could be good. I believe in keeping an open mind when it comes to food.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, it was glooooomy yesterday.

Edward and I boldly ventured out and soon found ourselves very much alone in what is usually our very popular neighborhood park--it has swan paddle boats, for god sake, and people rent them out, frequently. Poor Edward, he lives to be petted, sniffed, and licked by strangers, and yesterday's outing proved less than gratifying. Indeed, even the ducks seemed more desperate than usual, trailing forlornly after us, expecting their day's ration of bread crusts, but not getting it from me because I don't really get the whole feeding-the-ducks thing.

I took a few pictures of the bare trees reflected in the rain-soaked boardwalk, like the one at the top of this post. Here's another one:

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you got a lovely site and your pup is so precious! the fuwa cake looks so yummy too:) 

- maia

2/09/2005 11:52:00 PM  

Wait, the yaki imo truck doesn't always sell yaki imo?

See my problem is that by the time I hear them and made up my mind to go outside, the damned truck has already left the 1 km radius of my house!

They should make cold calls instead on a rainy day. If a yaki imo guy called up my house and asked if I want an atsu atsu piece of yaki imo delivered to my PJ clad self, I'd say yes! 

- Lynn

2/10/2005 12:41:00 AM  

Thank you, Maia! I just checked out your kitchen diary and it has great info on some neat stuff--Nori-Pop, mmmmm! 

- Rachel

2/10/2005 12:41:00 AM  

Hello, I stumbled upon your blog and a) really like it and b) have to comment on your fruitcake entry...

I have never eaten fruitcake, but am oddly obssessed by it...what does that mean? I keep meaning to get around to making a fruitcake so that I can eat one that hasn't been purchased at a random supermarket.

Anyways, my background aside, what I wanted to tell you is: there is an awesome essay on fruitcake that perhaps you should read if you haven't already. It's in a book called: The Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten. If you can't find it, or don't want to purchase it, I'll mail you a photocopy... 

- erica

2/10/2005 03:24:00 AM  

Hi Erica! (a) I'm so happy you like my blog; and (b)
I've actually completed my Fruitcake Odyssey but have been merely putting off writing about it, except that now I hear you've NEVER eaten fruitcake but want to, and I have this perfect (I fervently believe) fruitcake recipe for newbies... Well, I have to get on with it. Whatever you do, just don't eat a supermarket fruitcake. Yet.

I read The Man Who Ate Everything (it's still one of my favorite non-fiction books) quite a few years ago, and I must have forgotten large portions, because I don't remember the fruitcake essay. Thank you so much for offering to mail me a copy, but I just happened to see this book in the used English bookstore recently. I'll...just...quickly flip through the book the next time I stop by.

By the way, I was flipping through this very book a few weeks back, and I had such a good laugh reading Steingarten's account of his starter experimentation. He perfectly captured the feeling of excitement and parent-like anxiety that totally consumes you when you're in the middle of growing yeasts. What a great book.  

- Rachel

2/10/2005 04:10:00 AM  

Oh Lynn--haha. You're right, those yaki imo guys need to get a little more aggressive in their sales strategy.

Haven't you ever heard the other cries: "Gyo-O-zaaaa, Gyo-O-zaaaa!" and "Taaaa-KEH-taaaaa..."?  

- Rachel

2/10/2005 04:12:00 AM  

Do strangers seriously sniff and lick your dog? (Or maybe that's dog-strangers?) 

- Jessica

2/15/2005 07:34:00 PM  

Sorry, Jessica, I was being a bit silly. Yes, I did mean "petted by humans" and "sniffed and licked by the doggies."  

- Rachel

2/16/2005 12:15:00 AM  

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