As I explained in my last post, last autumn I finally realised my dream and went to Japan. As the title suggests, I am a French student and the British slang for French is ‘frog’, which I find more cute than insulting. So this frog is going to go very stereotypical and tell you how she went for all the yummy Japanese food!
In this Sweet edition, we mostly have snacks, traditional and modern alike.
My number one priority was to finally taste a Taiyaki, a sort of waffle in the shape of a fish with a filling inside (usually sweet red bean paste). I had seen this in various anime and manga and really wanted to try! Result: mixed feelings. Only in some places did we find it made in a truly traditional way, but the one is Osaka was really worth it!
Mochi and other tea snacks
Another of my goals was to try traditional tea ceremony. Unfortunately this seems to be quite a luxurious experience and requires being booked in advance. Instead we went to teahouses, especially in Kyoto, and tried matcha or green tea with all sorts of sweets. Mochi is a soft and chewy traditional sweet, often accompanying tea and also eaten during festivals such as New Year. There are several sorts, such as plain with peanut powder or sesame flavour with a smooth core.
Seasonal ice creams
Japanese seem to love soft-serve, Italian style ice cream as we found them everywhere. Their seasonal flavours seem the most interesting: here is matcha-chestnut, the autumn selection available at the stand in front of Osaka Castle.
The Japanese love some aspects of froggy culture, and notably desserts. However many East-Asian people do not like to eat as sweet as we do in Europe or the U.S. One of the yummy results is this crossover between what was perceived as foreign dessert and a traditional Japanese taste: the Japanese parfait! It usually involves a choice of cut fruits, jelly sweets, red beans, ice cream and biscuits for a diversity of textures. We found an interesting type of parfait with shaved ice cream in Nara (Kakigōri) that tasted amazing and was very light.
Japanese bakeries excel at making ‘less sweet’ versions of European favourites, but have also created their own incredible specialities. One of those is called melon pan, a bread supposedly shaped like a melon. The inside is soft and the top crust is crunchy & sweet ‘cookie dough’. If eaten fresh from a proper store, it is a true delish! We found some great ones near Asakusa in Tokyo.
Powdered educational food
Most of this fun “DIY” food is sweet. Found in colourful boxes, are little bags of different powders that, once rehydrated, can be shaped into make-believe meals. Japanese children and foreigners delight in this weird speciality which comes in many different variations.
That is all for the Sweet version, next time will be the Savoury!