Oct 5, 2013

Autumn Appetite

Having distinct four seasons may not be unique to Japan, but the Japanese put a lot of emphasis on the “change of season” and enjoying every season in their characteristic manner is very “Japanese”. As I’m starting my blog in autumn let me tell you about this season and its festivities, first. After the hot and humid summer, when the cool autumn temperatures set in, the body restores a healthy appetite, which the Japanese refer to as “shokuyoku no aki” meaning “A good appetite in autumn”.

Shokuyoku = appetite; Aki = autumn

Chestnuts (kuri), persimmons (kaki), Matsutake mushrooms, Pacific Saury (Sanma fish), sweet potatoes (Satsuma-imo) and “Nashi” (Japanese pears) are some very popular foods synonymous with the Japanese Autumn.
 
Raw (lower left)  and boiled (upper right) chestnuts
 
Chestnuts are eaten boiled, roasted, or cooked with rice called “kuri gohan”, (gohan = rice), while “marron” chestnuts are used mostly in desserts.


Persimmon
Japanese Pear
Persimmons, which are said to be cultivated most widely in Japan, are eaten raw or in a dried form. Japanese pears have a unique taste and are always eaten raw and peeled. They are crunchy and juicy but are not suitable for baking or making jams, due to their high water content.

Raw sweet potatoes
Candied sweet potatoes
*Taken from Cookpad 
Japanese sweet potatoes come with a purple skin and a soft, yellow flesh. They are eaten baked, as “Tempura/fritters” or candied, called “Daigaku-imo”.

*Taken from Wikipedia
 
Last but not least, the japanese fall-food experience is incomplete without“matsutake mushrooms”. Most popular for their distinct aroma, they are usually grilled or cooked with rice called “matsutake gohan” (gohan = rice). However, they are rare and unbelievably expensive. Their price depends mostly on their quality, availability and origin. In peak season, matsutake mushrooms grown in Japan may cost up to US$ 2000 per kilogram, whereas imported ones from neighboring Korea and China may be bought for US$ 100, per kilogram! Nevertheless, the special tastes of the Japanese autumn entertain our palettes until the cold winter sets in. Itadakimasu! ("Let's eat" in japanese).

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