Oh no no no, I’m not going to talk about Natsume Yuujinchou with you today. I’ve already presented Nyanko-sensei a few weeks back, and I don’t like to repeat my topics, you know. Today’s entry, rather, is on the real Natsume — that is, summer!
While it may be early days yet to talk about summer (considering I just went through the spring anime season last week), I can feel the heat strongly in Singapore already. And when the weather is hot, people will be flocking to their ice-cream stands and vending machines. In Japan, once summer does arrive, the Japanese will be exclusively eating cold food! And we do know that Japan does have a lot of popular cold dishes.
I believe my favourite Japanese cold dish would be sushi. I don’t have a favourite sushi, but I do tend to avoid the ones with wasabi or tuna, and I’m not all that keen on beancurd skins and fish roe either. I’d eat the latter types if they were offered to me, but if I had a choice I would go for the scallop sushi or the unagi sushi. The squid sushi is also pretty great, though raw squid always leaves a queasy yet exhilarating feeling in one’s mouth, doesn’t it?
The funny thing about sushi is that one can get quite full from it without knowing it. Sushi are like snacks, served in tiny portions on a plate. You eat 1 plate and can’t possibly be full, so you take another and another and before you know it you’ve overeaten. Sushi does go well with the Japanese soy sauce and also the ginger. Although I absolutely hate ginger, I would — if given a choice — eat Japanese ginger than touch even a morsel of Chinese ginger. Japanese ginger is pink and soft and somewhat sweet, so one can pardon the spicy taste that goes with it.
Aside from sushi, I also rather like soba. I’ve only eaten soba once, but it left quite a good impression with me. Soba, if you don’t know, is noodles made from buckwheat. They have a pretty good texture and more importantly, they’re served with ice! Nothing like iced noodles to get you through a hot day. They also come with a bowl of soupy sauce that you dip your noodles into before eating them. I haven’t mastered the art of slurping noodles yet, but in Japan, slurping your noodles noisily is a sign of courtesy, indicating to the chef that you love his cooking. Also, finishing the entire bowl is also a sign of respect, which can be hard when noodles in Japanese restaurants are served in such large portions. How do the Japanese eat so much and stay so thin?
But soba has a nice texture, as I said. On its own without sauce it tastes tasteless since the ice saps any taste out of it, but it becomes better with the sauce.
I must say I’ve had some experience with sashimi too. I’m not a big fan of raw fish, but sashimi is indeed a viable selection if I ever become very hungry. I had salmon sashimi and the meat was very thick and tender, and the mild fishy taste impressed me. I might indeed fall in love with sashimi if I could have more of it, but as of now dropping a slice of raw fish in my mouth still makes me itch with psychological uneasiness.
When the weather is hot, people tend to feel fuller, but with these cold Japanese delicacies, our appetites are sure to be whetted! So dart into your nearest air-conditioned Japanese restaurant and celebrate the summer with some cold food today!