Sunday, February 17, 2008


My rant a few days ago about Western and Japanese desserts came to mind again in reverse miniature when I had a Japanese dessert yesterday after lunch, as prepared by Echo. The dessert, pictured here (with a teaspoon to give some scale to your puzzlement), is about as alien to American eyes as you can get , I expect; at first glance it looks like maybe three marbles of possibly vanilla ice cream in licorice syrup, or white who knows what richly slathered in black who knows what else, at which point the mind begins to rise into the air and slowly circle the problem, so I'll pause here for about 5 minutes while you Western readers, soaring on your mental winds, can ponder what on the other side of the world this dessert could be.

[Five minutes pass.]

OK, I'm back. Had to go get some firewood and replenish the stove anyway. This mouthful in a dish is actually a significant departure (for Japan) from the traditional form of this dessert, which has been served with a brown sauce for about a thousand years. Be still my heart. The white objects are three small balls of plain white rice paste of the kind conventionally accompanied by a sauce of brown sugar slightly offset by a touch of saltiness. Better loosen your belt. Here you are beholding quite a radical Japanese dessert change: three small balls of plain white rice paste (so far so good), with a sauce of brown sugar slightly offset by a touch of saltiness (still so far so good), mixed with (here it comes:) ground black sesame! That'll knock your tabi off. I'm not sure Japan can withstand such extreme dessert adventures. The next thing you know, there'll be fewer decades of nowhere near Ben & Jerry's at the local supermall.

Which only my American mind minds, really--

My Japanese mind thinks the new rice ball dessert is delicious and suitably small.


Anonymous said...

This actually sounds very good to me...course, I'm not certain I could watch myself eating it--heh.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Hmmmm. I'm trying to absorb your description and meld it together with the picture....ahhh,'s just not happening. I think you just have to be there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, man - but what's the recipe? We wanna try it!


Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

Love the description _and_ anything with black sesame paste.

Plain white rice paste = glutinous rice

Your description sounds more palatable.