Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Happy New Year Meal

Happy new year! What do you do on new year?

In Japan, people eat osechi (traditional new year's meal) with their families when they return to their hometown from big cities. Somewhat like the chinese reunion dinner but not on new year's eve instead. Osechi is either prepared by the women of the families, which is very time consuming, or ordered ready-made from department stores, well known restaurants or convenience stores. And they eat the same thing for three days or so because it was a taboo to use a hearth and cook meals in the olden days. So food is being prepared at the end of the previous year and they eat the same thing for the next three days of the new year. Won't get bored with the same thing three meals a day for three days straight mah??? That's nine times! @_@

A rather extravagant looking osechi ryouri.

Basically new year is the only time where japanese can openly 食っちゃ寝食っちゃ寝 (kucchane kucchane) (to eat and sleep and eat and sleep) and grow fat in a kotatsu, a kind of low wooden table covered with a blanket and underneath it is a heater. You slide yourself inside and get all warm and comfy and magically never want to come out again. I had the opportunity of sitting in one a few days ago at a friend's house and i agreed with the feeling. It's nicer than my electric blanket! :x

A kotatsu in anime. For the whole 30 mins of the episode they sit there and do nothing.

Ready-made osechi can cost as much as $300 per box which can be single, double or triple tier. In addition to the traditional dishes, there are also modern osechi that consist of western food.

Been wanting to try osechi and since it's only available once a year, I just bought one for the novelty. I think it's a bit crazy to buy an expensive one. So this is my cheap, scaled down version of osechi. About $16. If you asked me, they are just preserve-ish food that's either salty or sweet. Coz you need to be able to store them out in open for days without spoiling. Last time no fridge, you see.

My poor man's osechi ^^;

Each osechi dish has a special meaning. The ones I had were the tazukuri (dried baby sardines in soy sauce and sugar), konbu (a kind of seaweed), kurikinton (mashed chestnuts and sweet potato paste in syrup) and kuromame (black soybeans).

Tazukuri literally means "to make rice paddy" as sardines were used to fertilise rice paddies. The dish symbolises a wish for an abundant harvest.

Konbu is a play on the word which sounds like yorokobu, meaning "joy".

Kurikinton symbolises wealth because it's golden in colour. I love this most. yummy!

Kuromame represents good health for the year because "mame" also means "health".

Let's see… I certainly need health, wealth and joy. Not sure how useful is "abundant harvest" to me though lol. Maybe i can apply it to another context. Like a more luxuriant amount of hair. What do you have on your new year?

1 comment:

  1. Happy new year. Love all the japanese stuff you introduce to your readers. I wish I can travel to Japan in future!


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