Anyway, the second day, we had some leftover pumpkins in the fridge. They didn't have anything but grapes and soda in their fridge when I arrived, because they don't do any of their cooking, but the first day we made dal an a few simple curries together, because they were curious about them. (We made this dal recipe, although we didn't use so much oil. None of them had ever had dal before.) I also got pumpkins for kaddu ki sabzi, which is a very simple dish of pumpkins cooked in spices. When I checked the recipes online, I saw that they called for fenugreek (one blogger said that it is essential, even), and we didn't have any. So I said, "Well, we can simmer them Japanese-style, right? You have soy sauce and sugar." Some of my Japanese cookbooks had recipes for pumpkin simmered in a broth with soy sauce and suger. And one of the guys said, "Nah, that takes too long. Let's just fry them." He sliced the pumpkin to about 5 mm, skin on, and fried them in a nonstick skillet with just a little oil until they were soft, sweet, and barely beginning to color and get crisp on the edges. They were wonderful.
I feel incredibly happy and very silly about this. This is not a recipe I needed to go to Tokyo to get; I am sure that any of my Nagano friends could have told me, and I probably could have figured it out on my own even in America. But I am grateful for any 10-minute vegetable recipe, no matter what means I find it by.