Watching a Hayao Miyazaki movie is like seeing a cartoon in colour for the first time. Every blade of grass is a distinct shade of green, each cloud has its own fluffy uniqueness. They are so beautiful and dreamlike, but my favourite, is My name is Totoro. This is a cute story about Satsuki and her little sister Mei who go to live in the country, while their mother recuperates in a nearby hospital. While adjusting to their new lives they stumble across a fluffy woodland spirit called Totoro who lives inside a giant camphor tree with his acorn obsessed friends. There are a few inexplicable characters – like the Nekobusa (Cat Bus) – but just let the madness wash over you as I promise once you finish watching you’ll have a new respect for acorns and the great outdoors.
In the movie, you get a glimpse of the Japanese reverence for food and eating. In Japan, food is crafted into beautiful shapes, dishes use micro-seasonal ingredients and outside restaurants you will often find their entire menu recreated in plastic on display for potential diners. Bento boxes are the best – these are takeaway boxes with boxed off sections for different portions of food and are always amazingly presented. I first had a bento box and sushi when in Philadelphia and fell in love with the containers of soup, fish, rice, salad with carrot flowers, radish swirls and hairy edamame beans. But, it wasn’t until I visited Japan that I realised there was an entire world outside of the bready barriers of the Western sandwich. My favourite Japanese lunch/snack food is definitely the Onigiri – little triangles of rice with a bit of seaweed to hold it with, but surprise – buried inside it was usually a nugget of tuna mayonnaise.
There are so many Totoro shaped foods on the web. Mei’s bento box from the movie has been skillfully re-created by Anna the Red here. Also, check out hello tuna’s totoro cream puffs! And these great totoro cake pops at juicy sushi.
I decided to dedicate a very plain, but delicious sushi roll to the great Totoro. If I’d had acorns these would have definitely been grated over the top. Check out my great Totoro sushi fan!! This is going to be my family heirloom.
This sushi had garlic prawns, crab sticks, lemon soaked onions, avocado, red pepper, wasabi and mayonaise.
And with the leftovers…a seafood salad with rice vinegar and avocado oil!