Pile of Pretz

I have a lot of photos of snack food on my camera.

One of the things I love about Pretz is that every few months they throw a few new flavors at us. I’m a sucker, and I buy them every time. Salty Butter Pretz? I wonder if that tastes different from Savory Butter Pretz? I must buy them NOW. Of course they taste the same, they always taste the same – like a crispy little cracker stick covered in fake umami flavoring. And I love it.  Behold, some new flavors:

Butter and soy sauce? Tastes like salt. Onion gratin soup? Tastes like salt.

Chirimenjako, or salty little fish. Tasted like salty fish.


Okonomiyaki? Tastes surprising like okonomiyaki, like the green seaweed stuff you sprinkle on top of your savory sauce-covered pancake. Adzuki toast? Disgusting! So gross! I spit them out and made a big display of how utterly horrible they were. Then promptly insisted Dan try them. He wouldn’t. I had high hopes for this one, I really did. I thought a salty sweet snack would be right up my alley, but this is more like a salty nasty snack. *Shudder*

There were two others which I opened and devoured before I could take a photo. I kept thinking I’d see them in the supermarket again, but as is the nature of Pretz, they are gone forever. You’ll have to believe me that they existed – wasabi and yuzu. Both were salty. And good.

I need a glass of water.

Where Is Pancakes House?

Sometimes a man just needs some pancakes.

We’ve been in Japan for three weeks, which really isn’t long enough to start getting cravings for American food. What have you gone three weeks without eating? Probably a lot of things. Probably most things.

But still, sometimes it’s nice to know that a comfort food is available to you. We’ve had trouble finding breakfast joints. Sure, onigiri is lovely in the morning, but once in a while I need pancakes and eggs.

Japan, being the space- and time-efficient place that it is, up and combined the two:

Okonomiyaki is often prepared on a hot grill at your table. A batter of eggs, flour, cabbage, and every fish and crustacean from the sea, okonomiyaki is basically a catch-all omelet, but sort of like a pancake, except when it’s like pizza. Phew.

Being the daring sorts that we are, we spotted a sign for an okonimiyaki restaurant and wandered up to its third floor location. Please take a moment to congratulate us. So far, unless I can see right into a restaurant from the ground floor, I don’t bother going in. I’m illiterate in the language, so who knows what I’ll get into. Call me a coward, but at least I won’t accidentally walk into an all-you-can-eat raw horse buffet.

But okonomiyaki! It is lovely and full of toppings. A sweetish BBQ sauce, shredded nori, scallions, bonito flakes (which dance around when exposed to heat), and mayonnaise.

I may have been the sort of person who once turned his nose to mayo, but now I’m on board. I guess Japan is giving me some perspective on what’s really important about my country. U-S-A! MAY-O-NNAISE!

With all the toppings and ingredients and foreign language (to me) and train tracks outside the window and the manga convention downstairs and the holy-cow-we’re-really-living-in-another-country-no-fooling, I noticed that okonomiyaki tasted surprisingly…familiar.

Not familiar like, “Oh, I had this at the Stop ‘N Save just the other day,” but rather, all the flavors just seemed to come together like something a boy from central PA is used to.

This, of course, is mayonnaise: