Oh, No! It’s already middle of December! The final month of a year. We have only two weeks before the brand new year starts. The time seems to pass more and more quickly every year. Is it the sign of aging? It has been quite a mild winter so far, but now the weather has become wet and cold which is the typical winter in England. Before it became this wintery weather I received an order of my sweets for a Tea & Sweet Tasting event held at a Tea shop My Cup of Tea. The tea shop ordered two types of ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets, so I decided to make one ‘Nerikiri’ and the other ‘Mochi’. I wanted them to be something pretty and also in autumn colour.
This is one of the sweets I made for this Tea & Sweet Tasting event order. Yellow Ginkgo ‘Icho’ and Red Japanese ‘Momiji’ Maple leaves are the most significant autumn colour so I thought serving sweets in Ginkgo design would be perfect in November. The sweets look quite similar to the sweets I made last year. Last year’s one was made with a different type of Japanese sweet pastry ‘Nerikiri’ which is easier to create shapes, but the sweets I made this time were made of ‘Mochi’.
My second sweet for November is also in the Autumn Colour theme. The shape is the leaf of ‘Ginkgo’ which becomes the most brilliant yellow colour during this season. Ginkgo is one of the most ancient plants which has not evolved for millions of years. The Ginkgo tree is originated in East Asia and I think there wasn’t many in the UK before. However, I noticed lately more Ginkgo trees along many avenues in newly developed area.
I have a beautiful childhood memory with Ginkgo leaves. I think it was in somewhere in Kyoto. I was about 3 or 4 years old and running around in a Shinto Shrine ground which was covered with magnificently yellow Ginkgo Leaves fallen from the numerous trees. It was like a massive carpet spread out as far as I could see.
So, I chose the image of my childhood memory for making the November sweet.
What is ‘Autumn’ for you?
Autumn in Japanese is ‘Aki‘ and written as ‘秋‘. The character is made from two parts. The left part shows what it is connected to and in this case ‘禾 (Nogi-hen)’ means the character is something to do with ‘Crop’. The right part is ‘火 (Hi)’ which means ‘Fire’. So by combining two parts together the character means ‘Drying Crop (by Fire)’. Japan has a culture of growing rice plants for many many years and we harvest it in Autumn. Traditionally we dried cut plants by hanging it in the field for weeks before threshing grains so it does make sense that Autumn is the time for ‘Drying Crop’ before a cold winter comes.
In Japan Autumn is described in several ways. We say Autumn is for Harvesting. Autumn is for Reading Books, Autumn is for Arts & Excercise. However, the most important thing about Autumn and we should never ever forget is that Autumn is for ‘Taste’ and ‘Appetite’.
The Taste of Autumn – ’Matsutake’ mushroom and ‘Kuri’ chestnuts