Back when we lived in Japan, we’d arrive after a stay in Europe with a suitcase full of food that was hard to come by, such as cheese and Swiss chocolate. Now it’s the other way round. We bring an empty suitcase to Japan, just to stuff it full with food items to take home. Of course it is entirely possible to buy Japanese food abroad. (In Geneva, we frequent Uchitomi, an actual Japanese supermarket which also sells prepared foods.) But understandably, many items are ridiculously expensive, and you don’t have much choice. That special brand you’re looking for? Well, you have to bring it home from Tokyo yourself. So what exactly is it that we are lugging to the other side of the earth? As I am regretfully eying our shrinking stash of Japanese food, let me give you a list.
Of course, there are staples: udon, soba, and at least 2kg of Japanese rice. Also some cooking supplies like sesame oil or rice vinegar come in handy. Tsukemono and umeboshi for the rice are also a must, and we usually also throw in some nori and furikake. While we always have a package of real fresh miso at home, we also enjoy the freeze-dried miso-soup monoportions, as they are ready in no time.
For snacks, we also always take a selection of fancy senbei, arare and beika. A bottle of nihonshu is also on the list.
While it takes a while to go through our tea supply even though we drink of it on a daily basis, the food usually runs out much more quickly and a visit at Uchitomi is in order.