Sailors Sample Scrumptious Foreign Food
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malcolm Kelley
USS Tripoli Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN – A Sailor takes a seat in the small but cozy Paradise Teahouse restaurant, tucked inside the mountain village of Hakone, Japan. Below sprawls the volcanic valley of Owakudani. Thick sulfuric clouds, dense enough to totally obscure nearby Mount Fuji, belch forth from the ground, but the restaurant is unaffected. The food finally arrives; a large bowl of ramen, steaming like the sulfur springs below. At first glance, the ramen seems to have all the expected trappings. A hard-boiled egg soaking in the flavor of savory light brown broth, sliced pork, and a smattering of green onions. The noodles, however, are pitch-black. They have been boiled in water rich in sulfur and iron that, while perfectly safe to eat, turns certain food items black.
Discovering new dishes and finding out how familiar foods take on a whole different flavor overseas has been a highlight of deployment for many Sailors aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7).
Enjoying a meal is one of the few truly universal human experiences, but trying foreign cuisine can also offer insights into what makes one culture distinct from another.
“I went to a sushi-go-round for the first time in Japan, and the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was,” said Airman Tyler Burroughs, from Loxahatchee, Florida. “Almost no one was talking. In American restaurants, usually it’s way noisier. It’s the same outside too. It’s so quiet in Japan.”
For Burroughs, the mechanics of a sushi-go-round turned a simple meal into an adventure. Plates of sushi paraded by the tables on a conveyor belt, and orders were placed through an electronic touchpad with English translations, completely eliminating the need for servers. Special orders arrived on marked plates, and once the patrons had their fill, the prices were calculated based on the number of plates left over from the meal.
Even playing it safe and sticking to well-known establishments can yield surprises. Widespread fast food chains such as McDonalds feature menu items and beverages exclusive to Japan.
“I think my favorite is melon soda,” said Burroughs. “I’d never heard of it before coming here. It doesn’t taste like any soda I’ve had before.”
A favorite among Tripoli Sailors is the abundance of snacks from Japanese convenience stores that are not available in the United States, said Interior Communications Specialist 3rd Class Declan Black, from New York.
“I think the most popular are these little pancakes with margarine and syrup that they only sell here,” Black said. “I also really like the melon buns and the egg teriyaki sandwiches. It was surprising to me how you could get really good, fresh food at a convenience store here.”
Tripoli’s maiden deployment has offered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see, hear, and taste the best parts of another country’s cuisine for the first time, and for some, not the last.
Tripoli is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
For more information about Tripoli, head to the command’s Facebook. (www.facebook.com/usstripoli) and Instagram (www.instgram.com/officialusstripoli) pages.