Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tokyo Thanksgiving

It isn't too difficult to find items to prepare an American-style Thanksgiving dinner there. You just have to be prepared to pay. And if you go to one of the grocery stores which cater to ex-pats, you have to be prepared to pay more than any sane person with the slightest knowledge of what is available in regular Japanese grocery stores would.

In Tokyo, a turkey will cost maybe $25 for a 7.5-8.5 lb bird. You can get whole cranberries for about $4 per 6 ounces or so, or canned cranberries for about $3.25 per can. You can get pie shells, fake gravy mix in the little envelopes ($4 for some), pumpkin pie mix, mashed potato mix, stuffing mix, whatever you want.

Naturally, you are better off to buy the ingredients and simply make most things yourself. We usually make as much as we can, but if we are pressed for time, we waste money on stuff like dried-out bread with spices (stuffing mix) and boxed-dried mash potato stuff. We haven't sunk to the point where we have to buy the fake chemical gravy mix yet.

On Thursday morning, I was short a few things, so I decided to make a quick run to the grocery store before we started cooking. What a mistake! I somehow thought the stores would be open in the early morning, but this is Japan so most never open before 10. (Other shops wait until 11 before they open). Thursday was a holiday in Japan too, but that was not the reason nothing was open. So I wasted time walking to the 3 nearest grocery stores until I gave up and finnaly went to Denenchofu National (there is another one in Hiroo.) This is an ex-pat store in which they sell 99% the same things available in bigger Japanese grocery stores (Tokyu etc) for an extra 10-30% in price. They are even more expensive than the Denenchofu Precce (A Tokyu-group grocery store with a 30% snob surcharge). The selection is poor, some of the meat looks old, and the prices are ridiculous. But a lot of ex-pats from the area go there. No problem as many are on company expense accounts. And besides, about 25% of the floor space is taken up with wine.

I spent about $40 on $15 worth of food. But I deserved it for being dumb enough to shop there.

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