2011年6月22日 星期三

創意和果子 Creativity blooms for Japanese confections in summer

創意和果子 Creativity blooms for Japanese confections in summer


Creativity blooms for Japanese confections in summer


photoHydrangea as interpreted by Kasho Kikuya, center, and clockwise from top: Toshimaya; Toraya; Kasho Kikuya; Ryoguchiya Korekiyo; Tsuruya Yoshinobu; and Toraya. Some of the confections are limited production items. (The Asahi Shimbun)

With rainy season at its height, one flower seems to thrive and bloom in the seemingly never-ending drizzle that blankets much of Japan during the early summer months.

While nowhere celebrated like the cherry blossoms, the hydrangea, with its petals in hues of blue, purple, pink and white, adds flair and color to an otherwise monotonous and gloomy season.

So it seems fitting that the flower is a popular theme chosen by creators of Japanese confections, whose intricately designed sweets attempt to capture the sentimentalism surrounding the changing of seasons.

A sampler of the various hydrangea-themed morsels created by artisans at various confectionaries shows the diversity of the ingredients and techniques that are used to create wagashi, or Japanese confections.

One morsel features a ball of bean paste sprinkled with blue- and purple-colored gelatin to recreate an entire grove of hydrangeas. Another more simple creation made of a pinkish, marzipan-like concoction of bean paste, glutinous rice and sugar features a single flower with four squarish petals, while yet another tries to emulate the image of dew lingering on the leaves and petals.

"The shapes, colors and names are essential in creating a sense of the season in wagashi," said Keiko Nakayama, a chief researcher at the Toraya Archives Toraya Bunko, which records the history of Tokyo-based Japanese confectionary Toraya.

According to Nakayama, Toraya, established nearly 480 years ago, has 3,000 titles for confections, some of which are documented in old scriptures.

While adhering to tradition, Japanese confections have also reflected the times.

"With abstract designs, there is the joy of trying to imagine what is being portrayed while listening to the titles. However, many recent confections seem to pursue a realist approach," Nakayama said. "It's a little sad to think that the sense of playfulness has been lost."

While appetites become thinner with the approaching summer heat, the creativity of wagashi artisans appear to reach the apex.

With the arrival of such seasonal motifs as peonies, morning glories, goldfish, fireflies and crystal-clear streams, confectionaries try to evoke a sense of coolness to match the summer weather with "kudzu" and "kanten" (agar) gelatin and other translucent or watery ingredients.

It's not just the artisans who are changing with the times. According to Nakayama, people nowadays are breaking away from the traditional image that wagashi is enjoyed best when served with green tea.

"Some customers tell us that they enjoy their 'yokan' (bean paste jelly) with espresso or cognac," Nakayama said.

Toraya Gallery on the second floor of Toraya's main office in Tokyo's Akasaka district occasionally features exhibitions on wagashi.

2011年6月10日 星期五

banana split


Banana Split
Banana Split
What's in a banana split? Well, obviously you start with a banana. Split it in half and lay it in an oblong dish. On top of it, plop three scoops of ice cream — traditionally, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. On one scoop, pour pineapple sauce; on one, chocolate syrup; and on the third, butterscotch topping. Top it all off with whipped cream, crushed nuts and a maraschino cherry. Voilá! Banana split! There are a few people and places that take credit for the tasty dessert. Some say it was born at a soda fountain in a drugstore in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1904, and cost 10 cents. Wilmington, Ohio, also likes to take credit, and to celebrate, they have an annual Banana Split Festival June 10-11. It's not particularly good for your waistline, but it's a lot of fun!


"I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream." Heywood Broun

2011年6月6日 星期一

tomato paste

《中英對照讀新聞》Eating pizza can stop sunburn 吃披薩可防曬傷


Eating pizza covered in tomato paste helps beat sunburn and wrinkles, say scientists.


Volunteers who stuffed the topping for 12 weeks had a third more protection against UV rays and higher levels of anti-ageing procollagen.


Researchers believe lycopene, the powerful antioxidant in tomatoes which gives them their colour, is responsible.


It has the ability to neutralise harmful molecules produced in skin exposed to UV rays.


The chemical, known to slash the risk of prostate cancer, is boosted by cooking.


And paste for pizzas is made from highly concentrated cooked tomatoes.


Volunteers ate five tablespoons of it plus ten grams of olive oil a day, while a control group had only oil.


Prof Lesley Rhodes, of the University of Manchester, said:"Tomatoes can’t replace sun creams but may be a good additive."



slash:深砍、割破 、鞭打、大幅削減、苛刻批評。例句:The reviewers slashed the composer’s work.(評論家猛烈批評這位作曲家的作品 。)

paste:糊狀物、醬、膏。例句:She spread some tomato paste on the fried fish.(她在炸好的魚上塗了一層番茄醬。)

stuff:大吃。例句:They’d been stuffing themselves with snacks all afternoon, so they didn’t want any dinner.(他們整個下午大吃零食,所以完全不想吃晚餐。)