The plain descriptions Murakami uses to show the fairly mundane details about the characters’ lives are very comforting to me. He tells us their routines, the inventory of their closets, the ingredients in their meals. The meals are often described as simple; many strike me as quite lonely. Some meals are both, and very few are neither. At any rate, I have attempted to catalog what I think is a pretty complete list of meals across all three books and rank them in order of simplicity.
“the most famous French restaurant in the city”
“Have you decided?” she asked.
“Pretty much,” Ayumi said.
“So what are you going to order?”
“I’ll have the mussels, the three-onion salad, and the Bordeaux-braised Iwate veal stew. How about you?”
“I’d like the lentil soup, the warm spring green salad, and the parchment-baked monkfish with polenta. Not much of a match for a red wine, but it’s free, so I can’t complain.”
“Mind sharing a little?”
“Not at all,” Aomame saiad. “And if you don’t mind, let’s share the deep-fried shrimp to start.”
the dowager and I differ on what is simple
“A simple meal is all I can offer you, if that’s all right,” the dowager said.
The dinner consisted of boiled white asparagus, salad Nicoise, a crabmeat omelet, and rolls and butter, nothing more.
“Sorry, but these simple things are all I can make,” says Tengo, who uses the word simple lightly
Tengo washed the rice, put it in the cooker, and turned on the switch. He used the time until the rice was ready to make miso soup with wakame seaweed and green onions, grill a sun-dried mackerel, take some tofu out of the refrigerator and flavor it with ginger, grate a chunk of daikon radish, and reheat some leftover boiled vegetables. To go with the rice, he set out some pickled turnip slices and a few pickled plums.
if you think this is a repetitve meal, you should know what I eat for breakfast every day
Breakfast was exactly the same every day – dried horse mackerel and fried eggs, a quartered tomato, seasoned dries seaweed, miso soup with shijimi clams, and rice – but for some reason it tasted wonderful every morning.
Tengo makes “nothing special”
Grilling a dried mackerel and grating a daikon radish. Making a miso soup with littlenecks and green onions to eat with tofu. Dousing cucumber slices and wakame seaweed with vinegar. Ending up with rice and nappa pickles.
I decided to look up wakame at this point
Listening to tracks like “Mother’s Little Helper” and “Lady Jane,” he made rice pilaf using ham and mushrooms and brown rice, and miso soup with tofu and wakame. He boiled cauliflower and favored it with curry sauce he prepared. He made a green bean and onion salad.
this sounds less nice when you know it is hospital food
Tengo had a salad, cooked vegetables, and miso soup with asari clams and scallions, washed down with hot hojicha tea.
Tengo is good with knives
Tengo chopped a lot of ginger to a fine consistency. Then he sliced some celery and mushrooms into nice-sized pieces. The Chinese parsley, too, he chopped up finely. He peeled the shrimp and washed them at the sink. … When the edamame were finished boiling, he drained them in a colander and left them to cool. Next he warmed a large frying pan and dribbled in some sesame oil and spread it over the bottom. He slowly fried the chopped ginger over a low flame.
The waiter came for their orders. Fuka-Eri still had her coat on. She ordered a salad and bread. “That’s all,” she said, returning the menu to the waiter.
[Tengo] ordered seafood linguine and decided to join Fuka-Eri in a glass of white wine.
curry and pie
Once the film had been processed and printed, he went to a nearby chain restaurant and looked through them in chronological order while eating a meal of chicken curry. … He called the waitress over and asked her about the day’s dessert. Peach pie, she replied. Ushikawa ordered a piece and a refill of coffee.
Ushikawa buys noodles
Then he went to a soba noodle shop and ordered a bowl of soba noodles with tempura. It had been a while since he had a hot meal. He savored the tempura noodles and drank down the last drop of broth.
beer and barbecue
The three nurses ate and drank a lot, and Tengo couldn’t keep up. As they got livelier, he sat beside them, quietly eating a moderate amount of grilled meat and sipping his draft beer so he didn’t get drunk.
breakfast foods for dinner
He drank some tomato juice from the fridge, boiled water, ground coffee beans and made coffee, toasted a slice of bread. He set the timer and cooked a soft-boiled egg.
Tengo gets more on my level
Tengo was hungry, so he fried some eggs and ate them with the cauliflower. He made some toast and drank two mugs of coffee.
I think the portable stove makes it sadder
He heated a can of chicken soup over a portable stove and carefully sipped it with a spoon. He ate two cold rolls, then polished off an apple, peel and all.
definitely the saddest meal
He opened a tin of corned beef, spread some on a roll, and ate it, standing up in the kitchen. He drank a container of lukewarm canned coffee. Nothing had any taste.
Tamaru’s “simple dishes”
They were simple cucumber and cheese sandwiches on brown bread, but were subtly flavored.
more wakame but a pretty lame dinner
At five thirty he made a simple dinner. … He made a tomato and wakame salad and ate a slice of toast.
snacks that I too can make
Feeling a little hungry, she took out some Camembert, cut a wedge, and ate it with crackers. When the cheese was half gone, she washed a stalk of celery, spread it with mayonnaise, and munched it whole.
a sad description of breakfast but at least he enjoys his lunch
The next morning, after a breakfast of cheese and crackers washed down by instant coffee. … Before noon he went to the discount store near the station and bought a small electric space heater. He then went to the same noodle place he had been to before, opened his newspaper, and ate an order of hot tempura soba.
like… airplane food?
He brought my meals on a tray and then took them away when I was finished. They used paper plates and flimsy plastic knives, forks, and spoons. The food they brought was ordinary prepared food in silver foil packages – not very good, but not so bad you wouldn’t eat it.
a spartan lunch
Lunch was usually a green salad and fruit.
Occasionally he would have a light sandwich, but usually he ate nothing.
a hot breakfast
As he ate his hot breakfast and drank tea, Tengo went over the events of the previous night.
a plain breakfast
She made herself a pot of coffee, toasted some bread, and boiled an egg.
a simple breakfast
She got up every day at six thirty and had a simple breakfast.
In conclusion, I have learned that all characters (perhaps except Tamaru) have much higher standards for their food than I do.