Two unrelated stories

1. I had The Flight of the Bumblebee in my head for eight hours at work today. I am completely exhausted from jiggling my leg in time all day.

2. Over the weekend I went drinking with my friend Y. We saw something called "healthy fried chicken" (ヘルシー空揚げ) on the menu, and ordered it out of curiosity. It took a long time to arrive -- so long that I began to suspect that I had unwittingly involved myself in some kind of performance art highlighting the folly and futility of requesting "healthy fried chicken". When it finally came out of the kitchen, it looked just like any other kara-age, right down to the dish of mayonnaise (!) on the side.

"Excuse me," Y. asked. "Just curious: what exactly is healthy about this fried chicken with mayonnaise?"

"We make it with breast meat," the proprietress explained.

Linguistic fun fact: Etymologically speaking, kara-age means "plain [← kara, empty] frying", because you use either no batter or a very light one to make it (as opposed to, say, tempura). You often see it written 唐揚げ, which means "Chinese-style frying", but this is ateji; the kara- in words like karaimo (Chinese potato) and karauta (Chinese poem) is not related to the kara that means empty. (It's probably a state or city-state name from ancient Korea.)

Popularity factor: 6


"In fact it’s probably a state or city-state name from ancient Korea": Umm ... so how exactly has the translation "Chinese" become standard? Why not "Korean" chicken, potato, poem (or even, surreally, chicken-potato-poem)?


I've made karaage with breast meat a few times. It's much drier than thigh meat, less tasty, and it's still deep fried. So I can't imagine it's all that healthier...


Lions are sometimes called "唐獅子" to distinguish them from 猪 and 鹿(sometimes pronounced しし). In this case, it would be "Chinese lion," no? Or is it an "empty lion"?

(Yes, I read about this in the Ariake train station today.)

Paul Davidson:

As a low-carb dieter, I love Japan. I practically live on stuff like kara-age and mayonnaise. Convenience stores love me. Of course, I eat healthy stuff like salads too.

In less than a year in Japan, I've lost 19 kilograms (42 pounds). I think I like this place. :)


Yeah, the breast meat was kind of dry and tough. But not to worry, we just went heavy on the mayonnaise. Mm... healthy!

Paul: But the carbs are the best things IN convenience stores! How can you pass up the pan shelf?

Paul Davidson:

"How can you pass up the pan shelf?"

You've no idea how hard it is sometimes to walk through a mall full of Vie de France and other bakeries!

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