It is mid-summer now. Even here in London we are having the hottest days so far this year. I know it is nothing compared to the heat and humidity of the summer in Japan or India, but still it is hot.
So what does Summer remind you of? For me it is the Radio Gymnastic Exercises and Morning Glory flowers. In Japan during school summer holiday many (probably not all) children get up early and gather in a nearby square or school ground. We tune in the radio to “NHK Radio Gymnastic Exercise” program which starts 6:30AM every day. After exercising each child receives a card and collect one stamp a day. On the way back home I remember I felt good and healthy after exercising in the fresh morning air and saw Morning Glory flowering beautifully at the front of many houses. The flowers are mostly in gradation between blue and pink which is my favourite colour.
Its Japanese name is ‘Asagao 朝顔’ meaning ‘Face in the Morning’. Morning Glory opens its huge round flower in early morning and closes in the afternoon. The people in the old days maybe thought the flowers reminded them of smiley faces of children, I wonder. It is certainly a face of beautiful flower in summer.
Now we are in July. However, I don’t see them in London. So … I made my nostalgic summer flowers as Japanese sweet.
Morning Glory / Asagao 朝顔
I like ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea. Actually since I was a child I really liked the taste. Although we had a set of Matcha making tools at home my mother did not make Matcha tea that often. Only when we had very good Japanese sweet ‘Wagashi‘ my mother brought out the set and made Matcha tea for us. Maybe that is why I thought having Matcha tea is something special. It was more like for ceremonial occasions and I still get excited about the whole process.
I think Matcha’s popularity these days is phenomenal. Western people knowing its Japanese name ‘Matcha’ was unthinkable to me until 5 years ago and it is unbelievable that there are several shops and cafés serving Matcha drink or food even here in London. Now we have been informed that there are great health benefits in Matcha and it is not just foodies but healthy food eaters are joining the Matcha drinking club.
I have been on a quest for searching a great way of using ‘Houjicha‘ Japanese Green Tea. When I saw a photo of Parfait dessert on a magazine I thought “This is it! It must be definitely tasty if I make this with Houjicha flavour”. I also wanted to add some colour and texture to it. As I posted earlier I have been harvesting Raspberries in my garden so I decided to use some into this dessert. With soft, melting but slightly crunchy texture, roasted Green Tea aroma and fresh sweet and sour soft fruit … I think it is perfect to combine Houjicha and Raspberries all together to make a Parfait.
Houjicha Latte Parfait with Raspberries
It is a great dessert for a dinner with friends. The best thing about this dish is that it is so simple to make. No fiddliness and no failure. I added some Raspberry and ready-made Meringue but you can use any other soft fruit or you don’t need to add anything at all. It is delicious as it is.
On the 7th of July we have another traditional event in Japan. It is called ‘Tanabata 七 夕’. It seems like Tanabata originally came from China a long time ago but it became one of the Japanese traditions started in about Nara period (AD 710 to 794).
The story behind the event is like this …
Yay, it is Raspberry time. It has been raining a lot almost every day here in London so I hardly water plants in my garden.
Whilst I was not even going out to my garden my Raspberries gradually started to appear. They were small and green at the beginning and became bigger …