Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Random Picture #122
One of my favorite snacks in Japan was chinsukou cookies. For quite some time, they tended to be the sort of thing that you were given as a gift rather than found in shops and bought for yourself. However, during the last several years that I was in Japan, they became increasingly easier to find. I'm sure that a big part of this was that Okinawan cuisine, which has always been recognized as being specialized, was becoming more and more popular all over Japan. When I had left, I believe it's popularity had not yet peaked. If you don't want to go back and read the linked review, I'll mention that these are a type of sugar cookie made with lard which resemble shortbread crossed with a classic Christmas sugar cookie.
While I first experienced these as a souvenir from a student who visited Okinawa, later, I found small bags of them for sale in Natural Lawson's convenience stores. Later, I found this big family pack on offer at a discount shop above a local supermarket. You know something has gone mainstream when it is sold in bulk at no-name shops. The flavors for sale here are plain, black (brown) sugar, and sweet potato. I tried many flavors (chocolate, chocolate chip, salty plain, pineapple, sweet potato, pumpkin and more!) of these when I was in Japan, and always like the plain ones best. The others were good, but there was something about the pure and simple taste of the plain one that worked.
If you're in Japan or an import store, you don't have to read Japanese to know these. They are always in this shape and size so they can be easily recognized. Sometimes they are sold individually in large bins filled with tiny cookies at Okinawan food fairs and you can cherry pick a variety of flavors for about 20 yen (about 24 cents) per cookie. Though they aren't the healthiest treat in the world (hello, saturated animal fats), an occasional one in the interests of sampling regional cuisine isn't likely to harden your arteries into rocks.