To me, this is one of the hardest parts of living abroad (and being married into another culture).
You don’t have the same unconscious knowledge of the food, culture, traditions, and responsibilities. Sure, you will pick things up the longer you live there… but you have to consciously learn every single one of them.
Which is exhausting.
Starting in early summer, red shiso went on sale in the local supermarket. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first because I generally only focus on buying things I understand and know how to use. One can only accidentally buy un-cookable or inedible food stuffs so many times before giving up (like buying a bag of plums that you can’t eat and are only supposed to be use for making plum wine or some sort of vegetable that needs to be boiled for 45 minutes before you can eat it).
But then I ran into my old lady friend and she started praising the benefits of red shiso juice. It was on sale that day too, only 178yen for a huge pack of the fresh, purple leaves. I was sold.
My husband was a cross between amused and horrified that I bought red shiso and planned to make a pitcher of the juice.
And, to his credit, the juice turned out about as awful as he said it would (still, he swore the juice I made was leagues better than any of the other times he’s drunk it). And he drank his whole glass while I gave up halfway. So.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, well…
I give up?
It’s a small thing – twenty minutes of work for a pitcher of gross(ish) pink, ‘healthy’ juice that sat in our fridge for a week as we forced it upon any unlucky friends and family members who visited (sorry, not sorry).
But it’s the small things that add up. Ryosuke’s American wife buys shiso leaves and doesn’t bring out the right kinds of snacks or refreshments when people visit and doesn’t clean the bathtub out every day and hugs people even though that’s weird and keeps forgetting to take her slippers off when she steps on the tatami mat. He has to work extra hard because he’s married to a foreigner.
It’s a small thing.
But these small things add up and I’ve got to laugh otherwise I might cry because of my own incompetence, ignorance, and ineptness in this country. Or at least that’s how it feels some of the time.
Ryosuke, to his credit, never asked me to be a Japanese housewife. He knew pretty well what he was getting into when he married me and prefers me the way I am. I never expected him to be an American husband, either (whatever that is).
We fit well together. And I know if I was married to anyone else, I would have gone crazy. Or, well, more crazy.