Thursday, 17 April 2008

hanami

Four years ago S and I went on holiday to Japan – my first real big trip and a very exciting thing for me. For the first four days or so, I kept on pinching S and shouting at him ‘We’re in Japan! We’re in Japan!’. He bore it patiently and we're still together, so he must really love me (or maybe he just stopped listening after the fourth time I yelled). Growing up I never lacked anything, but my parents didn’t have the money to travel far. We spent many a happy summer at the Belgian seaside, in the Belgian Ardennes, and even a few summers in France. But holidaying in exotic locations was something for rich people.

When I was at university, my student club organised a trip to Istanbul. I remember passing the poster on the notice board and thinking ‘oh that must be nice for the people who can do that sort of thing’. Then I had a second look at the poster and almost fell over backwards when I saw the price of the entire trip: BEF 6,000. That’s about £100 (or US$200), for a weeklong stay. Flights and hotel with breakfast included. Of course I signed up for this trip immediately. The realisation that I too could holiday in exotic locations and that it wasn’t just something for the other half was one of those defining moments for me, as I’d always dreamed about travelling to far-off places, but never thought those dreams could become reality.

Of course as a student I didn’t have the money to travel far and extensively, so when I started working and earning a living, travel was high up on my list of priorities. Top of that list was, and always had been, Japan. And it just so happened that it was at the very top of S’s list as well. So off to Japan we went. Our trip was perfectly timed with sakura season so a lot of hanami was to be done. We encountered a lot of people taking photographs of the cherry blossoms and even saw two sweet old ladies, sitting in the park and discussing the beauty of the flowers and how the petals wafted to the ground. And of course all the sweet shops were filled with special sweets for the occasion.

I’m a big fan of Japanese sweets and there is a shop close to where I work, so once in a wile I treat myself to a nice mochi. The sweets always seem so intricate and complex and impossible to recreate at home. But among the presents I received for my birthday last year was Harumi’s Japanese Cooking. Which had just the recipe I was looking for: little read bean-filled crepes. Delicate looking, appropriately pink and super easy to make. I feel a bit like a cheat, because it was so easy, but the results were absolutely delicious. Since I followed the recipe to the letter and didn't tinker with it, I won't repeat it here, but the crepe batter was a mix of water and flour with some sugar and oil, with a few drops of red food colouring added to it. The red bean paste I simply bought in my local Japanese supermarket.

With all the DIY I’ve been a bit out of the loop in recent months, and I haven’t kept track of all the food events, but after I had made these little crepes I discovered the theme of this month’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by La Petite Boulangette, is Asian sweet invasion. Perfect for my crepes.

7 comments:

Tartelette said...

What a lovely creations! I want to go to Japan when it's cherry blossom time...absolutely gorgeous! Makes me miss our cherry tree.

Courtney said...

i just happened onto your blog and your pictures are gorgeous! something to aspire to, i look forward to coming back in the future and seeing what other images you've captured. courtney @ http://thedoughball.blogspot.com/

Gloria said...

What's nice pictures, really beauty!!x Gloria

Gloria said...

Looking your profile I love Norah Jones too!!! I have videos of her with a country boy! You have it???I love your blog!!! xxGloria

Fuji Mama said...

I LOVE hanami! I have been wanting Harumi's book for awhile, and after seeing this post I think it's time to bite the bullet and go out and purchase it!

Valentina said...

I went to japan for the first time exactly at sakura time and was completely blown away, amongst other things, by how much they really appreciate/value/admire the sakura. I had sakura cakes and creme brullé..and little biscuits...Their pastry is so wonderful, so delicate. I love your creation.They look lovely and so delicate.Well done.

Cumaean said...

How funny, I always felt like that for far-away trips as a child... :-), George