If there’s one thing I can get into any time of the day or night, it’s convenience. You could say that, in my work as an engineering consultant, I’ve built my life around the pursuit of it. In the course of doing that, I’ve come to this important conclusion: the convenient option is not necessarily a compromising one. True convenience is beneficial, comfortable, easy, enjoyable. This has really hit home through my recent acquaintance with Japanese convenience stores, which looks set to evolve into a firm friendship.
See, the convenience stores back home in Sydney aren’t somewhere I’d consider getting my lunch from – not even once. On those grounds, I’ve avoided their Japanese counterparts like the plague. People would look at me oddly when I refused to partake in a quick run around the corner for packaged food that, by rights, should probably never be packaged (such as potato salad), or declined to duck in for some socks on the way back to work after a particularly wet night out. I would just refuse to enter, full stop.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve managed to destroy a rental car in such a way that I can’t claim it on insurance (let’s not get into that). Being in a strong position to want to save a few bucks, I finally caved to Cathy’s insistence that I try grabbing a ramen and Strong Zero at a convenience store instead of doing my usual rounds in search of the ultimate Tokyo dining experience.
How was it? Not half bad. At least, it was miles ahead of the fare I was imagining for the price. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I expected anything less of Tokyo – probably because I expected less of Cathy. Turns out her judgement’s not as poor as I thought.
Emmaline is such a prissy princess. As much as she claims to be all for efficiency and effectiveness, she’ll refuse to try out something that fits that bill to a tee on grounds that I actually find quite offensive – namely, that it comes recommended by me. We have a long personal history of this, going back to when we got our first mobile phones. She thinks I’m into fads and that I don’t have any kind of nose for quality, even though I’ve proven time and time again that I know what’s good.
In this case, what’s good is onigiri and buns from Tokyo convenience stores. I’ve been chowing down on these babies for months, with Emmaline visibly recoiling whenever I whip on out of my handbag. Now that she’s onto them herself, she’s sure to be going around telling every tourist she meets about ‘her’ awesome discovery of these cheap and cheerful eats.
Whatever. I think she needs something to take her mind off totalling her rental car the other week. But put it this way – I won’t be telling her about the rockabilly bar I discovered last night until she concedes that I’m the one with taste.
Okay, I get it. Everyone loves the convenience stores. Well, here’s the thing: I, for one, do not. Honestly, there are so many amazing things to eat in this city. Why would you opt for something that comes wrapped in plastic?
I know that Cathy long ago wrote me off as a snob, and Emmaline thinks she can win me over to her new thing of carrying a spare onigiri in her handbag (newsflash: you’re not the first person in the world to tote around snacks, sweetie). But I could not care less. I’ll be in my favourite restaurant eating out of a real bowl, thanks very much.
I’m writing my PhD on silk crafting, for crying out loud. Keep that pre-packaged junk out of my face.