Bon Appetit! Mahlzeit! Itadakimaaaasu!…Enjoy your meal.
I’m often asked what English speakers say before a meal, and I have to reply that unless the person is religious, more often than not, it’s nothing.
“Itadakimasu” literally means “I will receive” and I can’t imagine putting something in my mouth without thinking it, muttering it or singing it out. If I’m with F’s family, we always say “Mahlzeit” but still, I’m compelled by the obaachan in my brain to add a quiet “itadakimasu.” If I’m with Japanese friends, it’s a chorus around the table. It’s sweet. It’s grateful. It gives everyone a moment to think about from whence and through whose labour their food came.
I think English is the poorer without it.
Do you say something that signals the beginning of a meal, or know how to say Bon Appetit in another language?
Taco rice is originally from Okinawa but it’s a mainstay of most cafes in Tokyo. If you like, you can serve it with a fried egg on top. You could also make it vegetarian by omitting the beef and making the chili with only beans, adding 1/2 can of tomatoes to the mix. If you are gluten-free, you will either have to get a gluten free taco powder mix or use your own spices. This should serve 3-4 people.
For the mince
A carrot, diced
A small onion, diced
Half a stick of celery, diced (optional)
200 grams beef mince
1/2 can of red kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 packet of Old el Paso taco mix powder (I know, I know, you can make your own mix if you want – the main ingredients are cumin, coriander, chilli powder and paprika).
Saute the first 3 ingredients over medium until soft. Push to the side of the pan and fry the meat over high, breaking it up, until browned. Add the beans, taco mix powder and 100 mls of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Season.
Shredded iceberg lettuce (it has to be iceberg here in my opinion but you can blaspheme, obviously)
To assemble, scoop rice into a bowl and top with the meat and fixin’s – you don’t have to have it but the Kewpie mayo sends it over the top.