Monday, August 23, 2010

Oishiness Turns 1!

It was one year ago today that I published my very first post on OISHINESS. I kicked off my blog with a report on the annual Azabu-Juban Matsuri, the neighborhood street festival that transforms the area around the subway station closest to where I live, so it seems fitting to commemorate my first anniversary with photos from this year's Matsuri, taken as I made my way home from work through the crowded streets of food stalls, yukata-clad teenagers, kids with goldfish-in-a-bag, and happy couples chomping sausages on sticks.
This was the sight that greeted me as I approached the neighborhood: a solid mass of people. It was a good thing the temperature had dropped to a relatively cool 30 C - even though the air was full of smoke and the sour smell of beer, it was at least not overwhelmingly hot and humid, and I could enjoy meandering through the crowd rather than becoming claustrophobic. One thing about street festivals is that despite the normal Japanese cultural taboo against eating while walking, during festivals everyone does it, despite the danger of walking while eating things skewered on sticks.
Here's an innovative item on a stick: the Tornado Potato, a variation on the crisp/chip. Thin slices of potato are skewered, deep fried, and sprinkled with your choice of flavored salt. I couldn't get close enough to see what each color was supposed to taste like, but the green in the back that the man is in the process of sprinkling was seaweed-flavored.
Another potato option for those leery of skewers, is the popular bar food, batta jyaga (butter potato). A baked potato, or perhaps in this case steamed to judge from those wooden boxes in the background, is partially mashed and absolutely smothered in butter, and it looks like there are sauce and mayo options in those tubs at the front of the stand, as well, for the truly fearless.
I wrote last year about the octopus dumplings, or tako-yaki, that are ubiquitous at any street fair, but I had to repeat a topic for the sake of including this photo. Look closely and you'll see that's a bowl full of whole octopi. The chopped up version is on ice in the basket alongside - I don't know whether the whole ones are just for display or whether by the end of the night they'll all be in little pieces ready to go into dumplings. It's certainly an interesting cultural difference from America, where people are horrified even by a fish served head-on - people here are happy to see what their food looked like when it was alive, and apparently even at a street stand it's a point of pride to prove freshness by displaying the whole thing.
Speaking of head-on fishes, these are being grilled on sticks stuck in ashes around a live fire - a highly traditional way of cooking ayu (according to the internet, this is "sweetfish" in English, and it's a freshwater fish, somewhat like a small trout). This is what I tried last year, and found that all the bitter internal organs were still inside - I'm afraid this detracted from the sweetness of the experience, and I didn't feel any compulsion to make another attempt this time around. After a year of blogging about food, maybe I've learned when it's best to just take a picture.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Oishiness! May the years that follow be even more beautiful and tasty than the one portrayed so far!