I do love the occasional time-travel trip to a far-away location, and hope you do to. Yesterday we were in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal in the 1870’s. Today we are going to Japan in the year 1904, and our venue is a military hospital.
In November 1904, the Russo-Japanese War was in its ninth month. The Times of London of that month reported on the facilities in a private hospital which had been converted to military use. Luckily for us, the correspondent included in his report some comments on the food served to officer patients.
The Red Cross Hospital At Tokio.
It is only since the eyes of the world have been turned to the Far East under the stress of war that people have realized how Japan is in a position to teach other nations as well as to learn from them. This is especially the case in regard to the Japanese Red Cross Society, which is near perfect in its organization, each detail having been carefully considered. Now that its resources are being tried to the utmost, in this terrible press of work, there is no confusion, no lack of helpers, and no leakage in transmission of necessaries for the army.
The Red Cross Hospital at Shibuya in Tokio is in time of peace a training school for nurses ….
At the beginning of the war the whole system was gradually changed, and the wards formerly occupied by paying patients are now reserved for officers, ….
The officers’ meals are served in wooden cases, containing numerous little dishes, which are eaten with chopsticks. They are as follows:-
Breakfast, 6 a.m. Bean soup, fried fish, eggs dressed in various ways, rice (which takes the place of bread), and Japanese tea. (This tea is specially prepared and only allowed to stand one minute before it is poured off. No milk is taken with it, and it is constantly drunk during the day.)
Tiffin, 11.30. – Fish soup, slices of raw fish, a little meat or cooked fish, stewed vegetables (such as lotus root, lily root, egg plant, ginger seaweed, &c.,) pickles, sweetmeats, cakes, rice, and sometimes a little wine.
Dinner, 5 p.m. – Much the same as tiffin.
Later in the evening, milk, biscuits, and light refreshments as required.
There is only a slight difference between officers and privates as regards meals, except in the way of serving, and all wear unbleached calico kimonos, officers having the distinguishing mark of two black stripes on the left arm under the Red Cross. Their intense patriotism and disregard of life at the call of duty is remarkable …
As the recipe for the day, I give you a couple of recipes for Japanese sweetmeats, from the Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, by Sara Bosse And Onoto Watanna [pseud.] (Chicago, c1914)
A favorite Japanese candy. It is made of sweet rice, roasted over an open fire, same as popcorn, mixed with goma seeds, and held together in pressed bars with barley sugar. It is an improvement over the American popcorn-peanut balls.
Boil adzuki (purple beans) to a paste, and mix with sugar and seaweed gelatine. Allow it to harden.
How interesting that lunch is called tiffin.
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