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2014年7月29日 (火)

Midsummer Day of the Ox and eel/土用の丑の日と鰻

Canicular days are the 18 days before Risshun (around February 4th), Rikka (around May 5th), Risshu (around August 7th) and Ritto (around November 7th). The day of ox during the summer canicular days is Midsummer Day of the Ox, and it's today this year.  People eat eel on this day, and there’re several stories on how that custom was started; an eel shop owner consulted Gennai Hiraga, a herb doctor, on the poor sales. He put a poster that says “Midsummer Day of the Ox is the day of eel, then, the sales started picking up. It’s also said that eating foods starting with ‘u’ on the Midsummer Day of the Ox is good for the body.



2014年7月22日 (火)

Marlborough College Summer School/マルボロ大学サマースクール

Marlborough College is one of the most prestigious colleges in the U.K, and the college has Summer School for three weeks every year. It was their 40th year this year.

I had a weeklong course ‘Basic Japanese Cooking’. The course was meant for those who would like a proper grounding in cooking healthy Japanese dishes. My experience here taught me that British people like to ear or learn sushi but they are not keen with more than that. So I was not sure how the registration would go. But it was nice surprise that my course was fully booked at an early stage.

The course started with how to prepare rice and how to make soup stock. Then, my students learned six basic Japanese cooking techniques covering fried, steamed, simmered, deep-fried, vinegared and dressed dishes. The course ended with the most popular Japanese food, sushi rice with mixed ingredients.

Half of my students were English, and the rest were from France, Belgium and Hong Kong. They were open to something new to them and keen to learn. It was such a great week to share cooking with them.



私は、一週間、「和食の基本」という講座を担当させてもらいました。東京で「プロジェクト ルーツ」として活動をしていた頃、いちばん人気のあったコースを、現地調達できる食材と外国人の味覚にあうメニューに変えたものでした。これまでのイギリスの経験から、1週間も和食をみっちり学びたい‘稀な人はいるのか?と思っていましたが、講座受付後、早い時期に満席となったのは、嬉しいサプライズでした。



2014年7月13日 (日)

Visit by my old student/嬉しいお客さん

We had a visit by my old student this weekend. She came to my lessons in Tokyo for over a year on regular basis and went back home in Toronto two years ago. She got a business trip to London and came to us after her busy working weeks here.

I was feeling as if I were a mom, who was having her daughter back home. Dinner should be Japanese, of course. I cooked simmered eddow potatoes with konnyaku, beef and leek, oriental chicken salad, tempura, savory steamed egg hotchpotch, salmon rice and soup.

We ate, drunk and talked a lot till midnight. Thank you A for visiting us!






2014年7月 7日 (月)

Shichiseki (Tanabata) and vermicelli/七夕(しちせき、たなばた)と素麺

There’re two events on July 7th on the old calendar. One is the Star Festival that celebrates the meeting of two lovers, Kengyu (Altair, personified as a cowherd) and Shokujo (Vega, as a weaving girl). They’re separated by the Milky Way but allowed to meet on the bridge over the river just once a year on that day. The other is “Kikkoden” that prays for the improvement of women’s handicraft skills. In Japan, there’re rituals to purify themselves on the five sechi-nichi (Jinjitu - January 7th, Joushi - March 3rd, Tango - May 5th, Shichiseki - July 7th, Chouyou - September 9th). People bathed on July 7th to clean impurities away. Imperial court and aristocrats in the Nara period (710-784) adopted these events, and then it was spread to the ordinary people. The custom became popular in the Edo period (1603-1868) that setting up pieces of bamboo in the garden and hanging strips of paper of five different colors on that wishes are written. 

Somen (Japanese vermicelli) is the dish for this day. It’s likened to Shokujo’s threads and come from sakupei (noodle made with flour and rice flour).

(The bowl in the photo is made of ice. Prepare for two different size of bowls, pour some water and put in a freezer. That’s it.)






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