It's time for another Japanese tradition. A fun way to spend a cold and rainy winter's night, after a horrible day of work, when the thought of moving beyond the duvet distresses you. The joy of a nabe party is that you get to sit around a table, with a duvet over your legs, a heater at your feet, and the only time you ever have to move is... well, you don't, dinner is heated at the table. Once you sit down, there's really no need to move. Amazing.
Nabe is a kind of stew. Boil a heap of vegetables, meat and stock in a big pot and serve. Perfect winter food, with the added bonus of being healthy and inexpensive. Bring it to the table, place it on a portable stove to keep it warm. Everyone serves themselves, as and when they wish. When it comes to hosting parties, nabe is the meal we've all been waiting for. Seriously.
Add in my favourite Japanese technology, the kotatsu, for heat and added cosiness, with an assortment of unusual characters, and you truly have a wonderful evening guaranteed to lift the bluest of winter blues.
In the case of the party I went to over the weekend, the nabe contained an exotic mix of wild boar meat and crab. Truly delicious. It was held at a youth hostel run by the friend of a friend, so included a variety of people staying there, a few of the owner's friends and a random man in town to celebrate the birthday of his favourite hostess at one of the hostess bars in town. I found myself discussing A-Ha with a cyclist over from Hiroshima, Wallace and Grommit with a recent graduate cycling his way around the small island and whether or not England can win the World Cup this summer with a lawyer. I should probably point out, I know very little about A-Ha, couldn't remember the actual title of the Wallace and Grommit movie where the penguin dresses as a chicken, and only ever watch the soccer at World Cup time to check out Beckham's legs. None of this stopped me from launching into these conversations, and a very enjoyable evening was had by all. Sign me up for the next one.