Saturday, June 12, 2010
Random Weekend Picture 16
Describing mochi to people always feels inadequate when I do so in English. Calling it "rice cake" makes people visualize things like the Styrofoam health food discs that are sold to people trying to lose weight. Most mochi in Japan is processed in factories because making it is very labor intensive. Occasionally, people will get together and make it fresh for festivals. This picture was taken at one such festival. They're beating rice to a taffy-like consistency. This is the basis of all of the mochi snacks that I review, though obviously none of the mochi used in those foods is hand-made. My guess is that only premium mochi or that which is made for special occasions is hand-made.
One of my students told me her family buys fresh mochi (like that made by hand in the picture above) for their New Year's "kagami mochi" (traditional New Year's decoration). I asked her if it tasted better than the mass-produced stuff and she said she didn't like it. Of course, one of the reasons she wasn't keen on it was that it had the tendency to crack and get moldy as it sat around as a decoration until New Year's day. She said her mother had to cut out the moldy bits before they could eat it. It didn't really inspire me to seek out fresh mochi for my future kagami mochi needs.