June 8th, Friday:

  • Miso Soup (Enoki Mushroom, Tofu, Green Onion)
  • Five Ingredient Kinpira (Burdock, Carrot, Pork, Tsuto Surimi, Cut Konnyaku)
  • Japanese Meat Dumplings
  • Rice
  • Milk

It is said that burdock root originally comes from China, where it was used as medicine. Only after that did it begin to be eaten as a normal vegetable. The fresh burdock eaten at this time of year was planted in Autumn and is called “summer burdock”.

Kinpira, which most basically consists of  burdock, carrots, and sesame seeds, is a food I am quite fond of. It is surprisingly easy to cook, especially if you buy the burdock already sliced up. I like to add in surimi (yum yum!) when I make it home. It’s said that “kinpira” is named as Sakata Kintoki, who was famed from him strength and loyalty. The story of Sakata Kintoki–better known by the name of Kintarou–is a well known fairly tale in Japan. A poor boy raised by a single mother, yet as still a child, he becomes renowned for his strength through wood cutting and wrestling bears. He is noticed by a knight, and is taken into his service, to accomplish great deeds. While such stories are no longer popular, rural-born men–half outlaws, half noble knights–gaining their renown through wrestling were a common thing 200 years ago.  Shichibei the Demon, who fathered the Hag of Adachigahara, immediately comes to mind, although his is a tale of caution, rather than virtue. The British story of Turin Turambar can also be counted as a tale similar to this. These outlaw knight stories are of a very different world than that described in aristocratic tales, personally easier to identify with, and one I would like to read more about. Finally, of random interest is that the main character from the Bakumatsu period anime, Gintama, is based off Sakata Kintoki.


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