Thursday, January 24, 2008

Japanese foods...

I thought some of you might enjoy it if I shared some of the foods we eat here. There are a lot of neat food items in the winter. Especially at New Years. This New Years we were invited to a mochitsuki (mochi pounding) event at one of the kindergartens where I teach English. I thought I'd share that with ya.

Mochi (moe-ch-ey) is a certain kind of rice that when kneeded or pounded becomes a dough. It is traditional eaten at new years time. You can read more about mochi at Wikipedia here.

Rocky (right) joined two other men in the pounding. They use huge wooden hammers and the mochi is in a large marble bowl. It is best to keep a rhythm going and everyone pound at the right time to avoid hitting each other. Sometimes a fourth man is a part of the team and he reaches in to fold the mochi over at his turn. It takes a brave man to do that part, and he better be quick!

This is my plate of mochi! My favorite is the one wrapped in seaweed on the top right and the one in the middle which is covered in soy bean powder. What you see on the plate are as follows (starting from the top left) mochi covered in shredded daikon (a large radish), dipped in soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed, covered in ground black sesame seeds, mixed with natto beans and in the middle is the soy bean powder. I could NOT eat the ones mixed with nato beans. I am still not able to enjoy natto beans, which are beans that have been "aged" or spoiled. They smell terrible and feel even worse in your mouth. The Japanese insist they are good for you? But anything that is grose or doesn't taste good here is always "good for you"! Read about natto here.

And here is a sweet bonus picture of Hana enjoying her mochi. It is REALLY stretchy huh!?

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