Unlike a chain store or supermarket, farmer’s markets can be a little intimidating to some. The quaint look of the market may seem unfamiliar to those who always shop at Aeon Mall or Hamby Town store. Some markets may even have a “regular-customers-only” mood and seem hard to access for first -timers.
But with a copy of “Eat Okinawa,” there’s no need to worry. This three-part book has you covered before, during, and after the farmer’s market shopping experience on Okinawa.
Stripes Okinawa sat down with “Eat Okinawa” author, Casey Annis, to discuss the book.
Q: Tell us why/how you came to spend almost 20 years in Okinawa.
A: I came here when I was 10 for the first time. And I’ve lived here almost 20 years on 4 different tours. I am 40, so that’s half of my life. I took a couple of Japanese classes with the University of Maryland, in college. I went to college and got my bachelor’s degree here. I asked one of my friends that I went to college with, that’s from Okinawa, to help me with the book. Her name is Chiharu Uehara. She is a dietician in Okinawa. When I went to a college, she used to take classes on base at University of Maryland. That’s how I met her. She has already written a couple of calorie books and diet books. They have recipes and they show how to cook the size of your hand by instead of measuring like old school cooking style. When I just started to write the book, that’s why I asked her for help. Plus, she is also fluent in English. She lived in America for a couple of years. I knew she could help me with that.
Q: This looks very professional.
A: I like the way it turned out. The first half is more like the spinoff of the Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/160140934188143). It has shopping phrases. I put a chart on how to read Hiragana, Katakana, and Japanese words. And I put some charts on how to buy meat at off-base stores, how to read labels, nutrition information - things like that. After we did that, we took photos of dozens and dozens of fruits and vegetables and we put the names in Japanese and English. On the vegetables - how to prepare them and how to cook them. And then we took the recipes from Chiharu’s recipe book. There’s about 11 recipes.
Q: I see that people can carry this book while shopping.
A: Yes. We tried to make it a small size, so you could just put it in your bag and take it with you. It is kind of like a farmer’s market guidebook. Then it has some other shopping stuff. And the back half of it is just focusing on actual farmer’s markets here. It has information like where they are at, what hours are and has pictures of the stores.
Q: We did a survey asking service members what they would like to know about Okinawa. One of the most common answers was food information such as local famers’ markets.
A: I am excited. I have been surprised with how it’s being doing. I am gonna have a lot of books in my house in a couple weeks when I get the new delivery. It’s nice to take the 1,000 and get better… a couple of thousand… Gambare (keep it up!).
Q: Have you had any response from the readers or farmer’s markets?
A: I have received numerous messages of support from my Facebook page members thanking me for the book. Several people that are on their way to Okinawa have asked me to send them a copy and have said that this gives them one less thing to worry about with their transition.
Q: Is there any specific Okinawan food that you like?
A: My favorite is yasai soba (soba noodles topped with vegetables). And yasai itame (sauteed vegetables) and Chahan (fried rice).
Q: Any favorite restaurants?
A: Umichica by the Convention Center - that one has the best fried rice. And Chiruguwa by Araha beach - that one has really good soba. Those are probably my two favorite. My husband likes soki soba (soba noodle topped with pork rib), but I prefer vegetables.
Q: Please give us a short message for the readers of Stripes Okinawa.
A: If you are interested in grocery shopping off base you need to pick up a copy of “Eat Okinawa”. There are several food related translations, a produce guide with photos of local fruits and vegetables, a section highlighting Okinawan recipes, and a map of almost 50 farmer’s markets and specialty stores, including their addresses, business hours and more.
- Farmer’s Market Shopping Guide
Author: Casey Annis and Chiharu Uehara
Price: 1,200 yen plus tax
Now available at JA Chanpuru Ichiba,
JA Chatan Nirai Ichiba and
JA Itoman Umanchu Ichiba
Farmer’s Markets of Okinawa: