Searching for the Best "Purin"!

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Japanese Language & Culture

Authored By:

Abigail Drivdahl

I love Japanese pudding (プリン). I will wander through every Japanese convenience store looking for my favorites and trying new ones, and it is a neverending source of marvel to me at just how many types of pudding there are in one country! Milk-based pudding, soy milk pudding, matcha pudding, pudding with a souffle on top... I do have a favorite, but sometimes I think finding it is a bit like seeking a unicorn. 

So it was fantastic today to help the Language and Culture students currently studying abroad in Kyoto on their first big culture task: Konbini Lunch Adventure! Konbini are Japanese convenience stores, and drastically different from what we might find in America. Food choices are excellent and wide, and there are so many healthful options to choose from; I often find myself eating almost entirely out of konbini when I am in Japan because they are, truly, convenient and delicious. Students were tasked with visiting not one but two different konbini for their lunch today. I saw students choosing from zaru soba (buckwheat noodles with a soy-based sauce and various toppings), hiyashi chuka (kind of like cold ramen noodles with toppings like cucumber, egg, and ham), onigiri, or even just sandwiches. 

We saw students come away with tea, coffee, peach juice, fruit juice, and lots of メロンパン (melon bread, a Japanese high school student fave) and とんかつサンド (tonkatsu sandwiches). There was plenty of だんご (dango, a kind of dumpling on a stick) and things like 肉まん (nikuman, a meat bun) from the hot lunch section. I also saw a stuffed bear, because everyone needs adorable Japanese stuffies as lunchtime companions!

I did see some students with pudding, too. My favorite pudding is the kind with a little bit of caramel on the bottom, creamy pudding in the middle, and then a thin layer of half-and-half on the top. It's decadent and not too sweet, and also not so big that I'd ever get tired of it. 

Finding the perfect プリン takes patience and a willingness to try many things that may not be so great. Last night I tried an egg-based pudding, and full confession, I did not finish it. But that's part of the fun of being abroad! Students will try things and sometimes love them, sometimes maybe not so much, and that's all part of the fantastic learning experience. 

These are the stories we'll bring home; how we tried something super strange and yet lived to tell everyone all about it. Traveling and studying abroad is all about finding your favorite things- whether that's "pudding" or something less metaphorical- and discovering all the things you can do!

I'll keep looking for that pudding tomorrow. 明日も楽しみに〜!