Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Random Picture #212

My husband and I recently attended a festival in Japantown in San Jose (as I mentioned in last week's random picture). When I got to these festivals, I'm interested in both what sort of Japanese things are on offer and how those things differ from what I experienced in Japan. I'm not a purist about such things, mind you. I'm not going to poo-poo something that is inauthentic. I experienced enough "American" things which has been adapted for Japanese tastes in Japan to know that what sells in one place in one form doesn't sell in other places. Changes are necessary.

The picture above is manju (Japanese sweets with sweet bean fillings and mochi - pounded rice cake - exteriors). I noted that the manju on offer at the festival was jewel-toned and much darker in color than that in Japan. It also included flavors I didn't tend to see there like peanut butter and coconut. The color coding on these was, at least in part, to help people separate the flavors. My guess is that it was also to stop them from all looking like greyish blobs as sometimes that is how they look when not coated in some sort of powder or having a strong, colorful flavor element mixed in. I also noted that these were bigger than Japanese sweets, but that's no shock either.

The truth is that, though I don't judge the American alternations negatively and I understand where they come from, I suffer as much from the tendency to like what I know better than variations. Since I experienced Japanese food in Japan, I don't tend to like the American (or other) variations as much or feel drawn to them. They don't taste "right" to me, but I know this isn't that they're "wrong", but just a reflection of what I grew accustomed to.

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