Launch Day, Japanese Food, And A Giveaway!

GIVEAWAYS ON THIS POST ARE CLOSED.

This is it! The week my debut novel, REMOVED, Book ONE of the Nogiku Series, is available.

Putting my books in the hands of readers means the world to me. I’m hoping you’ll read and won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to leave a review on your favorite site too! Amazon, Goodreads, BN, Shelfari, LibraryThing, your own blog, what have you. In November, I’ll be holding a “Reader Appreciation” Giveaway, and your review will get you a lot of slots!

To celebrate REMOVED‘s book birthday, I’m hosting a giveaway (more on that at the end of this post)! Japanese food and socializing are a huge part of REMOVED. Miko’s family izakaya, Izakaya Tanaka, is a Japanese version of an English pub. Izakayas in Japan are usually small, seating anywhere from only 10 to 50 people. Beer and sake along with a large menu of grilled or fried food (sometimes there are sushi bars within the izakaya) are served and patrons tend to stay for long periods of time. It’s not uncommon for Japanese citizens to have a favorite, secret izakaya that they frequent often. They know the owner and the owner knows them. Patrons can even guarantee a seat if they are well-loved. (This is a dream of mine, of course). In REMOVED, Sanaa and her friends spent their nights and weekends growing up at Izakaya Tanaka. It’s a central part of their lives.

A super oishii sushi meal but sushi is just the tip of Japanese cuisine.

Westerners tend to think that sushi is the end-all be-all of Japanese food, but that couldn’t be further from the reality. Ramen, tempura, rice and seaweed, miso soup, and pickles are also some of the Japanese food most often eaten by Sanaa and her friends, and those items are just skimming the surface of the Japanese diet. When they aren’t at Izakaya Tanaka, they are visiting ramen or udon (udonya) restaurants, shopping at the local grocery store, or picking up food from the ward cafeteria. Conversations, parties, and dates are all held over meals. Food is an integral part of the story. (So are good drinks, like sake. Check out my post on sake from October!)

Bento 149: Lumpiang Shanghai Over the Moon!

One of the things I particularly love about Japan are bentos! Bento boxes are the equivalent of a packed lunch. The boxes themselves come in all shapes and sizes, some with compartments or little plastic lidded containers to hold a multitude of food. Bento boxes can be utilitarian or they can be fun! I’m dying to own a really cute Hello Kitty bento box with matching chopsticks. Collecting bento boxes could easily be an obsession of mine. I really need to stay away from ebay.

In general, a bento lunch will have at least 3 items but most likely more. Noodles or rice, salad, fish or meat, vegetables, dumplings, sushi… The variety is staggering. A well-prepared meal by mom or a significant other conveys their love to you through food. What’s better than that? If you need some bento inspiration, I highly recommend this search for “bento” on Flickr. You’ll see tons of great lunches and bento accessories to help you create a visually appealing meal as well.

Sanaa gets takeout bento boxes for breakfast all the time in REMOVED. She’s someone who is always on the go and needs a quick meal she can eat before work. In Japan, takeout bentos are regularly accessible pretty much everywhere from the train station platform to the local 7-11. Takeout bentos and sushi are fast food! Sure, McDonald’s and its brethren are available, but bentos and sushi were the original fast food, small items that can be eaten quickly, even by hand! Unless you’re in a fancy restaurant, it’s okay to eat sushi with your fingers. I swear!