Friday, March 30, 2012

Kamakura Pudding Cream Daifuku

My husband and I went to Kamakura to call upon the giant Buddha (daibutsu) several weeks ago because that's the sort of thing a person does before leaving a country forever. Honestly speaking, every time I have to write or say that we are going away "forever", I feel strange. I really cannot see us coming back after 23 years here, but you just never know where the winds will blow and compel you to go.

I should note, for no reason other than I want to put it out there, that we're leaving Japan very happy with Japan. There tend to be different ways of exiting this place. One is people who are here on a contract and the clock runs out so they go home with an interesting year under their belts. Another are people who are so fed up that they just want to blow this popsicle stand. Few operate in our situation and that is that we feel fulfilled and are going out on top. Seriously, life here has been better than ever (aside from my thyroid tumor) before. It's an awesome feeling that we're leaving something positive to face a new challenge rather than thinking we've played this scene or abandoning this sinking ship like self-serving rats. It's like a relationship break-up in which both sides mutually accept that it's the best thing to do and that nothing went so wrong so much as it's time to move on.

Anyway, the big Buddha sits there looking serene and peaceful and the shops around him offer souvenirs both tacky and tasteful, and also things that have the potential to be "tasty". (See my obvious wordplay there? I'm not nearly as clever as I would like to be.) My husband and I scrutinized the items on offer and decided to go for this sunnily boxed daifuku. With ingredients like whipped cream, eggs, and sugar, we knew there was a good chance that this would be very right because it sounded so very wrong. Also, the Buddha looks pretty happy holding pudding on the box front. How could it be bad if it pleases him so much? And would a cartoon Buddha lie to us about his authentic reaction to a treat?

When it said "pudding cream", I thought we were getting pounded rice cake (mochi) filled with custard. That is a tasty enough possibility, but not as interesting as what it really was. It is actually pudding and cream. The center is a dense, soft concoction of "whipped cream" which has the consistency of whipped Crisco shortening and a somewhat coconutty flavor. The mochi mainly provides a soft and highly flexible wrapper and the pudding a hint of rich, vanilla custard flavor. This was a little tricky to eat because it is so soft, but it's not incredibly gooey because the fillings are relatively firm for their type. The filling texture is amazingly creamy and satisfying and couples well with the chewy mochi.

I loved these and would definitely buy another box of 16 for about 1400 yen ($17) again if I make my way to Kamakura again. That being said, nutritionally, I'm sure these are pure poison as that filling has to contain hydrogenated oils. Since this was a souvenir, there was little nutritional information on the box (of course). The Japanese confectioners who provide such things don't want to put a damper on your party by letting you know how bad such things are for you. Still, they are rather small (about 4 cm./1.7 in. in diameter) and if you can manage to just eat one a day until the box is done (which is what my husband and I did), then the damage will be minimal.

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