Friday, April 16, 2010

Ponder Me This...

Did you ever wonder why a piece of bread with a slice of cheese and tomato is a perfectly normal, healthy breakfast...


Bread, cheese, tomato. Good breakfast.

..but the same bread, with the same cheese and the same tomato becomes an unhealthy, fatty indulgence when you grill the thing?


Bread, cheese, tomato. Grilled. Bad breakfast.

Our relation to food just isn't very rational I guess.


  1. I don't know how to say this without sounding rude (and I really don't mean to be rude!), but that was never a healthy breakfast (even before toasting). I love Japanese white bread, but it's like eating cake for breakfast from a nutritional standpoint. ;-)

  2. OK. ^_^

    Let's say "not noticeably unhealthy" then. As opposed to the grilled version which is "most definitely, noticeably not good for you at all". Despite containing the identical ingredients.

  3. Oh, and I actually prefer rye bread or Swedish hardbread to white, spongy toast. And given the choice I skip bread altogether for a Japanese-style breakfast with miso soup (it's a brilliant breakfast food). But being two people at the breakfast table we normally eat what we both can agree on rather than what each of us would most prefer.

  4. I want rye bread right now. Where can i get it in Tokyo? That white fluffy Japanese thing is having me foaming around the mouth with fury...

  5. I guess you should be able to find it in any good bakery. Me, I bake my own. :)

  6. Great pictures. I'm salivating big time after seeing that.

    Morio, Where are you Tokyo ? The three best bakeries I go to are : Robucheon at Yebisu Garden Place. Jean Pierre in Mark City Shibuya, and A small local bakery in Yoyoyi Uehara, whose name escapes me at the moment. They all do excellent Rye bread. The bakery in Kinokinea at Shibuya is also good too.
    Let me know if you need more details.

  7. Ironically, since coming to Japan I have switched completely to French baguettes, breadwise, from the more whole grain "wheatberry" style bread that we'd normally eat in the U.S. I guess this is a step downward in a way.

    But researching it a bit, it turns out that the extra "nutrition" in whole grain bread, including the dietary fiber, is relatively trivial, and if you eat plenty of vegetables, bread's contribution is a rounding error. The biggest nutritional value in U.S. bread is the added folic acid for pregnant women, not natural occurring in wheat.

    Why do I eat white French bread in Japan? Because there are bakeries on every corner, it seems, and enough of them are really good that it's easy to get hooked on freshly baked bread. And it's surprising how many local bakery and cake shop proprietors have spent time in Europe learning their craft, or learned it from people who have. The two young women at a small sweets shop near my company graduated from Le Cordon Bleu.

    So back to your bread, cheese and tomato, that's something I love, in the form of a hunk of a good baguette, a tomato (I tend to just cut the top and bottom off and not bother to slice them), a couple wedges of Hokkaido Camembert (less slab-of-butter like than French), some French grainy mustard, and ground pepper. Nutritionally equal to your photo, but more gourmet looking.

  8. Marko, I prefer rye bread and hardbread simply because it tastes better - it tastes more - than white bread. And when I came to Japan there simply was nothing but white pre-sliced bread to be had anywhere around where I lived. I'm actually quite surprised how quickly this has changed; today the only reason I have to bake is because it's fun, since we can get rye bread and sourdough-based stuff in every corner bakery nowadays.

    Now, if we could get a good selection of real cheeses in normal supermarkets and not just in speciality stores...

  9. "I prefer rye bread and hardbread simply because it tastes better."

    You say this like it was some sort of physical fact: The earth is round, not flat, and rye bread tastes better than white bread. I acknowledge that this is your opinion and your personal taste, but it's something that differs among people and something that can change with experience. There is plenty of taste in baguettes, and it's combined with the texture difference between the crust and inside. And they taste quite different: we have a local bakery chain (Antendo) that uses a sourdough starter, for instant. (They also have a take on the standard sliced white bread called "France shoku pan" that is really good, but expensive).

    I've lived in Japan since July, 1990, and there have always been baguettes at bakeries, so this is nothing new.

    "Now, if we could get a good selection of real cheeses."

    My philosophy is "when in Rome," and rather than try to complain and try to find sources of "expat" food, I just take a closer look at the market and appreciate all the stuff that I couldn't get in the U.S. If I can reproduce something I do (for instance, Mexican food can be done pretty well, as long as you like flour tortillas), but if not, it becomes a treat to have when I travel back.

    As I mentioned before, with Hokkaido "Camembert" cheese, rather than have the standard expat kneejerk reaction of "fake!," I appreciate it for what it is, a quite good and less fatty take on Camembert, made fresh and locally.

    Expats in Japan can be "carbon dated," and you sound like you're at about the seven year mark, where you're going to decide whether Japan "sucks" and move away in a huff, or whether can can appreciate it for what it is, also begin to see your home country for its pluses and minuses, and be happy.

  10. You didn't notice the "I" in my statement? Also, you seem to see some kind of implied criticism in what I write that simply isn't there.

    Nothing against Hokkaido cheese, or other good cheese, Japanese or not. Smoked cheese is one thing I always bring back whenever I've visited Hokkaido. But I can't actually get good, flavourful cheese unless I go to a delicatessen, and pay delicatessen prices. Which annoys me as I know inexpensive, good cheese is available in other parts of the country.

    Wishing something was different does not imply a rejection of the status quo.


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