Gaijin means “foreign person.” It’s not the most respectful term in Japanese, but it’s not degrading either. It simply means you are not Japanese, but for some reason you are here in Japan. So what do gaijin do on 4th of July? Well, we don’t have BBQs because people only do that during cherry blossom season. And we don’t go to parades or wear red, white, and blue (because we stand out enough already), but we do gather everything we can to make a meal that resembles the one that we share with friends and family back home. And we do light sparklers and other kinds of firecrackers (called hanabi) because unlike some counties in California, they’re perfectly legal and available everywhere.
Playing with fire – what Japanese children (and gaijin) do during the summertime.
Our main dish was hotdogs. Sounds easy enough. But Japanese hotdogs are usually cocktail sized, or taste more like breakfast sausages. The closest thing to an Oscar Meyer or a Ballpark are sold with sticks in them (this is how they’re sold at Japanese festivals with really spicy mustard). So we removed the sticks, heated them in a hot pan, and devoured them with lots of mustard, chopped onions, and tomatoes.
I wanted to make some sweet, smoky baked beans to go with our hotdogs, so this is the recipe that I came up (minus the bacon, because for some reason they discontinued it in our supermarket recently, along with butter. There seems to be a shortage going on. WTF!?)
1 can white cannellini beans, drained
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 of a white onion, diced
BBQ sauce (twice around the pan, if you’re Rachael Ray)
Worcestershire sauce (once around the pan)
2 TBS. molassas
2 TBS. brown sugar
2 squeezes of ketchup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
- Drain the beans and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until color just begins to change.
- Add the beans, followed by all the other ingredients. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjusting seasonings if necessary.
We also ate chips and habanero salsa, cornbread and watermelon! Usually we can’t find cornmeal here, but last week one of my students brought me a package of cornbread mix from Costco, so I happily accepted it!
So that’s what these gaijin did on Independence Day! God Bless America, but God Bless Japan too!! 🙂