Tonsillitis and the Marathons… sounds like a terrible band name, right? But if you saw it on a t-shirt in a Chinese department store, it would be the least of your worries. Tonsillitis, after all is an inflammation of the tonsils. What are those? Were you about to say, the things that, when removed, allow you to have a no-holds-barred ice cream feast? That may be an urban legend, although even more fascinating is that even after tonsils are removed, it doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of getting an infection.
What does this have to do with Japan? Are the Japanese the only group of people born without tonsils? Heh, you’re off to a bad start. As a matter of fact, as a kid, I used to think about other adolescents in hospitals country-wide, propped up in their beds, diving into endless bowls of アイス クリーム (aisu kuriimu). (Look how simple it is for to become overweight in Japan– ice cream sounds the same, クッキー kukkii is cookie,
アメリカンドッグ amerikan doggu is corn dog, and tako is octopus, kite or callus, so 3 out of 4 isn’t bad) Years passed, and I thought golly, that’s ignorant, wouldn’t they much rather be out of the hospital eating ice cream, oranything for that matter? For instance, a wave of high school students/taste testers/fatalists is on holiday in Tokyo. They stroll by the innumerable food displays in restaurant windows- tonkatsu, ramen, jelly and hip hop– but settle on ice cream. That’s boring, no? Sure Japan has its own take on the dessert, with black sesame, red bean and matcha flavors among the more well-known varieties, but if the display wasn’t just a lie to reel you into the restaurant…
Not really sure what the pile of french fries are doing in the second photo, though considering Japanese ketchup is mostly sugar, it’s likely sweeter than the cone-infested roughage that predominate the rest of the picture. In Japan, I’ll eat anything (I guess that could include funazushi), yet these pantheons of pancreatic pugilism lead me to think it’s best done in a group of fifty or less.
All of a sudden, you pass out. Too much ice cream, all the while neglecting basic biological functions: Blinking, breathing, depth perception, a round of pachinko. Somehow you wake up, and somehow it’s time for breakfast. What’s for breakfast in Japan? Salmon, a bowl of rice, natto, seaweed, miso soup, and pickled ginger at a Matsuya fast food outlet? Tomorrow, when you remember what salt is. How about an apple, a danish and Activia® from a 7-11 (the good, Japanese kind; thanks Danone for the yoghurt)? Only if you don’t feel like walking long distances. What about toast with bananas, chocolate syrup, and something that looks like an egg but probably is whipped cream? Did you forget about last night already? Who cares, this toast is taller than half of Indochina!
Have you noticed similarly over-sized food on your travels? How did it look once it got to your table?