When driving in rural Japan you are never too far from a roadside inn, a place to rest, eat the local produce and stock up on food to take home to Tokyo. I found this place on National Road 414 running right down the Izu peninsula to the south west of Tokyo (Google Maps here). It is a wild and mountainous area full of wildlife so naturally one of the local specialities is boar! I tried some roast boar ham with mountain vegetable soba soup and a side dish of wasabi, another local speciality. Everything used in the cooking of this (apart from salt and cooking oil I think) is produced in the local area by local people using more or less sustainable and ecological ways of farming and hunting. And it tastes great too. I am lucky to still be able to enjoy this sort of food in 2013, most of my friends in other countries have never eaten 100% locally grown meals and I hope we can keep this way of producing food for the next generation to come.
Large parts of Japan’s forested mountains are nearly impenetrable by humans so hunting in these parts are really difficult, there is no such thing as flat terrain and hunters generally rely on well trained dogs to drive the boars closer to the hunters. In the old days boars would stay hidden in the forests but as more and more humans encroach on the boar’s living space there are more opportunities to find good food on farms and cities near the forests so in the last couple of decades wild boar damage on human agriculture has increased. There’s also fewer and fewer hunters to help keep the number of boars down.
If you are in Tokyo today you really should treat yourself to the gourmet event of the spring, the All Japan Food Festival held right between Harajuku and Shibuya station outside and at the NHK Broadcasting Center (if you travel by the Yamanote line you’d be closest from Harajuku station) from 10 to 16. I went and got to try a lot of great food and drinks from all over the country. It was absolutely not the best place and time to do photography as I bought bags of stuff and spent most of my time with food in my hands but I did manage to get a few shots! Here’s the captions:
1. A yuzu juice drink from Tochigi prefecture, named appropriately Yuzuppe, after the local dialect’s habit of ending sentences with the word …dappe! 2. Delicious chicken clubs from Shimane prefecture. 3. Fizzy Pear soft drink from Tottori prefecture. 4. Garlic rayu (a kind of seasoning pefect for your plain white rice) and melon juice cans from Shiga prefecture. 5. The super cute Shiga melon character Ouminchi! 6. & 7. Daidai (bitter orange) cider and daidai/wasabi dressing. 8. Some very interesting and very rare actually made in Tokyo Japanese sake! 9. One of the cute Hokkaido berry girls! 10. 100% Saga prefecture Mikan juice. 11. The straw God from Kagoshima prefecture remade in Tokyo.
At the perpetual construction site that is Shibuya’s East Exit you are usually greeted by the most delicious smell as you step out into the fresh air, the vanilla cream scent of Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs, and just to the right of you is the main store of the entire chain, a little hole in the wall outlet with a nearly perpetual line of people stocking up on the wonderful pastries. It’s no secret that any retail space on the ground floor and within a stone throw of Shibuya station usually has almost astronomical sales figures (at least until a couple of years ago, one make up store near the north exit had the highest cash turn around per square meter of any commercial real estate in the world), so I can only guess that Beard Papa’s will fight tooth and nail to keep this location open during the common renovations of the department store building above it!
It’s been awhile since I blogged about soft drinks, but I found these two different label variations of the new winter Pepsi, Pepsi White. I think there is a third as well but I am not that desperate to get a perfect collection! The new ones made me think about an old one from the summer, Salty Watermelon, that I had bought but forgotten about. I still haven’t tried any of them but, if you’d like to give me a review I’d be happy! The winter Pepsi is Winter Mikan flavored, coming from the Japanese custom of staying snug and cozy under the kotatsu (a heated table common in many cold Japanese homes) while eating mikan. The summer one comes from another common Japanese custom of ever so slightly salting their watermelon to get a more intense flavor!