Playing the market for fun and deliciousness

Tokyo is a big city, and the range of items you get at most shops and supermarkets is just fantastic.  However, there’s one food item I’ve missed here more than any other: lamb, and specifically lamb chops.

Yes, I love me a lamb chop.  However, it’s nigh-impossible to find them over here on the less-international east side of Tokyo.  If you go into a supermarket and ask, they’ll say that they don’t stock them because no-one wants them.  I want them, I say.  Sorry, I don’t speak English, they say before getting back to scanning barcodes, in spite of the entire conversation being in Japanese up until that point.  Case closed.

Talking to Japanese people, the reason that lamb isn’t popular here is that the smell is considered too strong for many people.  I’m not sure how that heavenly smell could ever be too strong, and this in a county where liver is massively popular.  There’s a reason, “What am I, chopped liver?” is used negatively.  At any rate, lamb is just not the belle of the meat section in Japan, it would seem.

However, a Happening!

Lamb!  And Australian lamb, no less.  It was certainly not cheap at around $11 for two modestly-sized lamb chops, but the way I fell upon them like a recently returned castaway, I was sure I was getting some interesting looks from surrounding shoppers.

So, I’d sated my lambly desires for one day.  But how to ensure my supply?  The lamb had just suddenly turned up one day and might well disappear the next.

And with such thinking, I made it my mission to single-handedly prop up demand for lamb at my local supermarket.  When lamb appeared, I’d buy it.  All of it.  Sales of lamb had never been higher there!  I imagine supermarket execs in their monthly sales meeting with one of those big graphs on an easel, a spiky red line surging ever-upwards.  “No, I don’t know what happened at that store either, Yamamoto-san.  But order more lamb, stat!  It’s flying off the shelves!”

With supply of lamb increasing and faced with a glut, I keep buying it, unsure of how much artificial demand I need to create to ensure a perpetual supply.  Meanwhile, my freezer is overflowing.  I’m unable to eat so much lamb, and actually get kind of sick of it after trying to battle through my stockpiles.  My desire to eat lamb diminishes considerably.

And so not long after it begins, my attempt to slap down the invisible hand in my local economy fails, my lamb problem is solved and the local lamb market regulates itself.

This may be the only time something I learned in the one torturous year of my aborted Economics degree has come true in a real-world situation.  I’ll have to contact my former economics professor.   I’m sure he won’t make a mistake like that again.

Article take-away: it’s impossible to manipulate economies if you’re a fussy eater.

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3 thoughts on “Playing the market for fun and deliciousness

  1. In reverse, what everyday culinary delight in Japan is hard to get in Oz? Squid Balls? Chopped liver burgers? Is there an opportunity to appeal to the (declining) stream of Japanese visitors here?

    • Well, there’s plenty of those – a blog post in itself! Even with lots of Asian supermarkets in Australia, I’m sure there are a few tough-to-find items (Japanese cherries, for one perhaps). I’m stealthily building a tour of a Japanese supermarket, a couple of shots at a time. So, one of these days, I hope to have a report on the menagerie of the strangest everyday foods that Japan has to offer.

      • Maybe you should set a monthly challenge, by pointing out one crazy item and see if anyone can source it abroad?

        You can of course, stump us first up with those square watermelons.

        Finally, just to be a bastard, I’d like to inform you that my local butcher is doing a side of lamb for under $30.

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