A JAPANESE LUNCHEON
The ‘Run’ supplies n delightful account of a, Japanese luncheon given at Sydney tho other day by Aim© Shimizu, wife of the Japanese Consul-General, at which some 14 guests were present. Tho table is spread with a damask cloth of surpassing whiteness, and. in the centre stands a mirror with a. great glass bowi of white iris. Except for this and tho small lacquered tray before each guest, the table ia empty, giving a charming effect of simplicity, after our ornate lun- < heons, with 'their plethora of glass .and silverware. Your eyes wander towards the tray before tou," and. nodding reassuringly and with a certain air of bravado at a frie d across the way, you tear open an oblong transparent envelope, that, betrays a pair or wooden chopsticks! (You wish to retract that sweeping mental comment on the extravagant appointments of a European luncheon party!) You look up, a little flushed, to catch an amused twinkle in the eye of your hostess, who. seeing your plight, demonstrates by clipping her chopsticks together, ns though they were a pair of scissors. Then the guest, uho has been to Japan, and is sitting alongside, shows you how to hold one stick penwiso between finger and thumb and the other along the first, and second Angers. After all it ie agreeably simple, but you do not vet know' the rigor of Japanese table etiquette, nor that "the. manner of manipulating chopsticks is an infallible test of breeding. —An Ambition to Flat Something.— You have an ambition to eat something—but what? Or. tbe tray is a collection of dishes (tho largest about the size of a bread and butter plate) and painted china howls, the lids of which, when turned, upside down with the knobs as feet form fresh bowls. One plate bears a preserved apricot, two chestnuts, a little piece of fried fish, and an omelette made hke.a Victoria roll, with whitebait where the jam would be. Glancing round, you find that under madams’s guidance- the guests are dipping from dish to dish, and occasionally drinking clear soup from little bowls placed at the left side of the trays. The bowl .is raised with the left hand, since the right, with its chopsticks, must keep back from the mouth small pieces of meat than float about in the soup. Soon you are tasting here and there, perhaps not as daintily as madam© does, but with fine abandon tad a facile assumption of fickleness. There are tiny meat rissoles servsd_ with pe a s mid preserved bamboo Immediately you think of cane lounges, and have a vision of picked wickerwork, but taste and you will find that the small squares cut from young bamboo shoots arc as crisp and delicious as preserved ginger, thoiizh j»i hoi or atxcauijc. flavored..
i A tiny plate before you hold.*) crab and tomato sauce, and as tho meal proceeds bowls of rico are served, also dainty strips of fish fried and twisted in a curly design, and fascinating prawns done in batter, followed by a thick soup that is a surprise packet of macaroni, peas, whitebait, preserved bamboo, and mushrooms, not more than half an inch across. Stoma and all have been preserved in bottles and shipped from Japan. Following your hostess’s instructions, you hold the prawn fritters intact between chopsticks, and nibble off small pieces. To tho novice this is as precarious as eating tho flesh off a cherry without separating stone from stem. Bnt though the fritter swoons with a dull thud several times during the performance, you pick it up and set to work again. You discover that Japanese rice ia boiled so that it can be manipulated in lumps—were you more expert you would hold the bowl in tho left hand while you flicked the grains mouthwards with tho chopsticks. (The initial performance of this feat should be held privately 1) —Peas and Chopsticks.— When you have done all these things, besides having, regardless of upbringing, waved a single pea between your chopsticks and squeaked with triumph at the guest opposite, you are invited to help yourself from a small dish in the middle of the tabic. You take only a mouthful, and pour over it something that resembles . Worcester sauce, and is called shoyn. It i is cabbage that, after being in pickle for three or lour clays, has been cut into shreds, and the condiment that you poured upon it is really the foundation of Worcester sauce, and is shipped in lory© quantities from Japan to Britain every year. This dish serves instead of olives, and is certainly as cleansing and piquant to the taste. The trays arc now removed, and replaced by bowls of green tea, the delicate flavor of which you would not , dream of spoiling with milk or sugar. Then come strawberries and cream and delicious prune jelly. Mme -Shimizu says that no gardener in Japan dreams of omitting to have a strawberry bed. The mate for the finger-bowls are of Mme .Shimizu’s handiwork, and are de- ; lightfully realistic imitations of maple ! leaves, dog-roses, violets, and peach bios- , som. ; The lunch is now at an end, and when someone compliments madame oa possessl ing such an excellent cook, she bubbles ; over with amusement, and lets you know r for the first time that the repast was pre--1 pared with her own hands, except for tho i ehelling of peas and peeling of vegetables. If you express admiration of her efu- , ciency in the kitchen, she will shrug her r shoulders nonchalantly and say : “But i how could a man go to business or war , whose wife was a bad manager?”
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A JAPANESE LUNCHEON, Evening Star, Issue 15707, 22 January 1915