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  • Writer's pictureKarli Messer

First Day of Work!

Today, I started my first day at "work", cooking at Harappa Cafe. I enjoyed delicious food and met some familiar faces on my evening stroll! Hint, hint, cats!!!

I say "work" because I really mean WWOOFing. Just in case you aren't familiar, it's an international organization that connects Hosts in need of help with WWOOFers who want to learn or try new things. It's like volunteering, except WWOOFers receive free accommodations such as housing and food. At Harappa Cafe, our host is Ryuji san. We start at 9 AM and always finish by 3 PM. In the morning, we clean the bathroom, the dining area, and the dishes and this work is shared between all the WWOOFers. By around 9:20 AM, we finish cleaning and get ready to start cooking!

I'll be honest, I did not have any ideas for dishes to make when I stepped into the kitchen. Before jumping in, I assessed the fridge for what veggies we had on hand and found the first match, spinach and tofu. Grandma Chic taught me how to make a simple spinach and tofu "salad" and it was a hit with my Japanese friends back home. I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a go and try something simple while I get used to the new kitchen.

I finished this dish pretty quickly and had to move on to something else! Again, short on ideas, I remembered the tempura dish that Sawa's family had made for me and checked with Ryuji san and got started! This was the first time I had ever cooked on an industrial stove so the oil was almost too hot, too fast! When I dropped in some practice veggies they puffed up and cooked right away! Although it all went better than I imagined, at one point Ryuji san warned me that the oil was too hot and it might burn! I had to lower the temperature and adjust the way I cooked the tempura.

Some things I noticed about the vegetables I'll share with you! To my surprise, Japanese spinach is different than the spinach at home. It's mostly stalk and they were really long! The photo doesn't entirely capture the size difference, but they were longer! The green onion was the same, but totally different as well! The stalk is thin and almost 1.5 ft long! I'll add some pictures for those who are curious!

One thing I would like to improve on next time is my kabocha (Japanese squash) since it was still a little hard in the middle. When the oil was too hot, they weren't getting cooked through to the center. :(

This is the feast that everyone prepared!

I wanted to try a little bit of everything, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach and after one plate I was stuffed!

I was so full. Apparently, this happens on your first day. You get excited and take a bunch of photos, you take a humungous plate of food, and afterward, you feel too full to think about food ever again. Thankfully, it's not just me!

I went for a walk along the main road to ease my stomach after a big lunch and found a cute shop called Homme Blue Cafe.

While browsing in Homme Blue Cafe, I felt something brush up on my legs and I thought it was a cat! Not to be disappointed, I found this cute little guy! The owner of the store was so kind and chatted with me about the town's cats. I asked for a restaurant recommendation in Yufuin and she told me about Amami Chaya. What a very sweet lady! I am so glad I visited her shop since I like cute crafts and cats!

Continuing on with my walk, I saw more cats than people! After 5 or 6 PM, all the shops close and the tourists go back to their ryokan. I counted 8 cats today!

Finally, I arrived home and rested a bit. Since the toilet is separated from the guest house I was lucky enough to notice the beautiful sunset!

What a great end to my first day on the job!


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