The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Two weddings and a lot of good food!

Recently Rob and I had the privilege of attending two weddings in two different countries: a Greek wedding in Brisbane, Australia, and a mixed Aussie/Japanese wedding in Tokyo, Japan. And like most weddings, there were plenty of delicious food to ensure a wonderful atmosphere and lots of happy guests. And as usual, I was armed with my dSLR to not only snap the merry proceedings, but to also take shots of the food (to the amusement of the guests seated nearby us).

The Greek wedding fare

It was our first time experiencing a Greek wedding, and there were lots of food, merry-making and dancing - I participated in my first Greek dance, and spent half the night on the dance floor! (I'm sure there were many who wondered if an almost-6-month pregnant girl in high heels should be on the dance floor, but I didn't care!) And the food - I enjoyed learning firsthand about Greek cuisine by eating them! I'm grateful to Eleni (the 'best friend of honour') who sat next to me on the bridal table for giving me an insight into the Greek culinary world. The wedding menu technically contains four courses, but there were so many dishes within each of these courses that it could have easily passed for a 12-course dinner!

View from the seats of honour (shot taken before guests were seated):

Bonbonniere/favours (gifts for the guests) on the table included a handmade Greek Almond Ball and chocolates in a heart-shaped box that doubled as a name placecard:

The food was served banquet-style, and we helped ourselves to the food as they were brought to the table. First course was crusty bread and a meze platter that included feta cheese, stuffed bell peppers (with a cream cheese mixture - really good!), sundried tomatoes, olives and vegetable sticks served with three types of dips: taramosalada (cod roe dip), tzatziki (yoghurt and garlic dip) and eggplant.

The wedding cake (chocolate and caramel mudcake - yum!!); and the Meze Platter of the first course:

The second course brought a myriad of dishes that included grilled haloumi (a type of cheese), grilled marinated baby octopus, calamari (battered and deep-fried squid rings which were very moreish and not at all greasy) and sheftalies (a type of sausage).

Grilled Haloumi and Calamari:

For the third course, we enjoyed boorgoori (cracked wheat) with Greek yoghurt (although it's a simple dish, I really liked the boorgoori a lot), moussaka (a Greek dish with layers of mince meat, eggplant and tomatoes, but this one was topped with mashed potatoes much like shepherd's pie - and although I was already quite full, I kept spooning the moussaka onto my plate), yemista (tomatoes and zucchini stuffed with rice), kleftiko (lamb with lemon and herbs) and lemon potatoes.

Sheftalies and Yemista:

The main dessert was baklava with ice cream, but it came accompanied with a plate filled with slices of the wedding cake (chocolate and caramel mudcake), galatoboureko (custard-filled parcels) and gourambiethes (buttery shortbread biscuits). I get the impression that the Greeks sure love their desserts! What can I say but that we were in sugar heaven! (It was no wonder that on the following week during my routine pre-natal check up at my hospital back in Tokyo, sugar was detected in the tests and I had to be told by the doctor to lay off sugary carb-laden stuff.)

Baklava and the Dessert Plate:

See what I mean about there being so much food? I love variety, and I don't think I've eaten so many different Greek dishes in one meal before!

Western-Japanese fusion wedding

The following week, we attended a wedding where the bride (my friend) is Aussie and the groom is Japanese. The affair was decidedly more western than Japanese (white weddings are very popular in Japan, and I think it's a sad thing that traditional Japanese weddings aren't so common nowadays) but we did witness the traditional Japanese custom of Kagami Biraki where the newlyweds break open a small barrel of sake (Japanese alcohol). The dinner reception was held in Sunshine Cruise on the 58th floor of the Sunshine60 building in Ikebukuro. The venue was very chic and sophisticated, with a sweeping view of the surrounding area.

View from our table:

It was a 10-course fare and the food was as chic and sophisticated as its venue - seasonal Japanese ingredients served Western-style. The food was served banquet-style, but rather than self-service, I found my fellow female table diners were serving other guests' plates first before tending to their own plates, in typical Japanese put-others-before-self style. The food was lovely and presented with great care. We had metal chopsticks to eat with, which lends a sophisticated feel to the tableware, but my Japanese friends commented that it was difficult to eat using metal chopsticks. The courses included Japanese-style meatloaf, satoimo (taro root) with yuba (tofu 'skin'), chicken salad (which was very tasty for a salad!), hotaru ika ('firefly' squid, so called because they glow in the dark when still alive), unagi (eel), fatty pork morsels served with crisp pumpkin slivers and prawn sushi. Dessert was a relatively light milk pudding.

Here are photos of some of the dishes for you to enjoy with your eyes (titles are given by me since I don't have the actual names of the dishes):

Japanese Meatloaf and Satoimo with Yuba:

Hotaru Ika and Pork with Pumpkin Chips:

Unagi and Prawn Sushi:

Quite a bit different to the Greek wedding fare, isn't it? I love Japanese food because they are usually quite light (both in flavour and on my stomach) and I certainly didn't feel like I overate even though I'd eaten plenty that night.

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