The Cherry tree for fruit in my garden is in full bloom too
We are in the middle of the full Cherry Blossom season in London. There is a traditional custom called ‘Hanami’ (‘Hana’ means flower/ blossom and ‘Mi ((Miru))’ means to look/ watch) that people picnic under a cherry tree and enjoy eating & drinking whilst viewing the beauty of Sakura.
We also have a proverb ‘Hana yori Dango’ which means ‘Food comes before Flower (Beauty)’. This describes that although viewing Sakura blossom is enjoyable, it cannot beat the delight of eating delicious food.
There is a sweet during this Sakura season called ‘Hanami-Dango’. It is composed of three balls of a ‘Mochi‘ type sweet in tricolour of Green, White and Pink stuck together with a skewer. But why these colours and why in this order? There seems several theories behind this colour scheme but the one I like is like this. ‘White’ is a symbol of ‘Snow=Winter’, ‘Green’ is the ‘New Leaves’ just about coming out from under the snow and ‘Pink’ is the colour of ‘Sakura=Spring’. So all these colours together explain the season which people have longed for the arrival during the long cold winter.
I made Hanami-Dango with Tofu this year. Why Tofu? You can use water instead but by adding Tofu the Mochi Dango becomes softer and bouncier texture and the softness lasts longer. You can make this in almost the same way as the ‘Shiratama Dango’ I introduced before.
The main reason I went back to Japan this time was that my family had a Buddhism memorial service called ‘Hohji (法事)’. A Monk visited our home and gave us a prayer service. It lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. It was not that long but you had to be seating on a ‘Tatami (たたみ)’ mat and that was the toughest part of it. We of course sat on a cushion ‘Zabuton (座布団)’ but since I’ve been living in the UK for a while now and not used to seating on my leg … My legs became numb. The monk told us to sit in any position we felt comfortable and followed by telling us that he knew somebody who had broken her/his bone because s/he had tried to stand up and stumbled due to numbed legs. It was a hilarious story that we thought a little too extreme. Anyway we finished our prayers, thanked and said good-bye to the monk. None of us broke our bones luckily.
Before the service we had a special lunch for the day.
Today is ‘TOFU’ Day
Today is the 2nd of October. In Japan month comes before date so today’s date is the 10th month (October) and the 2nd day. In Japan we have several ways in reading number. We read ‘10’ as ‘To(u)’ and ‘2’ as ‘Fu’ in some reading. By connecting both it becomes ‘To-Fu’. That is why it is ‘TOFU’ Day today. You got it? It is a silly pun playing on words but it’s good to remind people about certain foods & things and make people appreciate what we have. 🙂
During my stay in Japan I went to several restaurants and enjoyed Japanese food very much. Only the problem was that I tend to forget taking photos. So these are the only photos I can show you here and the rest of the food just stays in my mind and my stomach. Sorry.
My home town Nagoya became one of the Foodie Capitals (check ‘Nagoya Meshi’) in the last 10 years or so. That was after I started living in the UK so I am not quite sure which food actually belong to this category, however, I can tell you that the biggest of all Nagoya-Meshi is certainly ‘Hitsumabushi’.
‘Hitsumabushi’ – Grilled Eel in O-Hitsu the wooden pot