Thursday, April 01, 2004



Lest any attentive readers of various previous posts (NATIONAL TREASURES, IN PRAISE OF ANKO et al.) get the idea that I am in an adversarial relationship with Japanese foods other than dessert, let them eat cake. The Japanese make wonderful products, from cars and stereos to toilets and musical toilet paper rolls, and have in those and countless other cultural regards won the admiration of the world, and spread joy to all nations through their instruction manuals.

I must insist, however, despite the rabid anko-oriented email, that the only area in which there is a lack of equivalent cultural depth, the only gap in the Japanese gustatory picture as it were, actually in quite a prominent place in that picture, right about where the postprandial joy should be, is an abyss in the overall cuisinal structure that cannot be ignored: the sad state of Japanese desserts.

We are civilized people, are we not? We have moved up in the world from the days when we rubbed mud off our food before eating, have we not? Ergo we can go beyond just making it look good, can we not, perhaps advance into the very daring realm of broad-spectrum FLAVOR?

No doubt there will be numerous heads shaking knowingly out there in the world as they read these words, thinking such thoughts as: 'but a mochidango is a wonderful dessert,' or 'a little bit of rice paste with some anko inside on a bamboo leaf is a simply exquisite item of which to partake following a light Japanese meal,' I must respond that, although I understand you completely and in several ways wish I did not, in a minor but very real way you are insane.

This brings to an end my short rebuttal on this tasteless subject. For my next Japanese food-related diatribe, tune in for the beacon of flavor that is THE BENTO, coming to your nearest LCD as soon as I stop thinking of cherry pie.

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