Tuesday, January 31, 2006

This Is How the Weekend Went...

Sorry. Like I already mentioned in my replies to the comments, I couldn’t take photos of the tea ceremony last weekend.

It was not really a formal tea ceremony anyway. It was actually some kind of event for “the commencement of the sightseeing season in Muroto city,” and people sold food and local specialties at 5 to 6 booths built along the path going down to the beach of cape Muroto. They made a set menu of a substantial bento, a bowl of fish’n vegetable soup and matcha with wagashi as a dessert for 1000 yen or something altogether. They sold about 150 meal tickets for this set menu, so my mom and her students needed to make tea 150 times and more. So you can see how far it was from formal tea ceremony. ;)

You might wonder how tea ceremony was related to the sightseeing in Muroto. It’s not that the traditional performance is especially popular in this area. But tea ceremony was something nice to add cultural and traditional touch to the event, I guess, and more than anything, it can use the leading product of the area – “deep sea water.” Yes, my mom and her students used deep sea water (desalted) for making matcha. I’ll talk about how it affected the taste of the tea later.

Anyway, these are the food photos I managed to take before we started setting up our booth. After that, I didn’t have a chance to take out my camera.

This was the booth by local chefs and they made and sold nigiri-zushi bento there. They started working earlier than any other booths.

This was the booth right next to us and they sold dried fish. I guess this was a rare opportunity to see hanging dried squid and matcha being served by women in kimono right next to each other. ;)

At our booth, we spread white cloth over the foldable tables and set 10 foldable chairs. My mom and her students made tea in one corner which was hidden from visitors by red-and-white backdrops. Three RELATIVELY young women (incl. myself) in kimono received tickets from visitors and told tea-makers the number, then brought matcha and wagashi to the tables.

The funny thing was that most of the wagashi was rice cakes with anko inside, and the rice cake part was so moist and sticky that the guests couldn’t cut it easily with a wooden pick. Most of the local people don’t really care about the manner of tea ceremony, but since women in kimono brought tea and took a bow as serving it, they seemed to have thought that they had to behave elegantly, too. So all of them tried to cut the wagashi nicely instead of stabbing it with the wooden pick and biting it off. It was hilarious to see them – even big old guys – trying so hard to cut the small rice cakes.

The most amazing thing was that there were three or four kids who really loved the matcha and asked for seconds, or thirds. One of them even came to the “backstage area” to say thank you to my mom and her students. I guess those of you readers who have tried matcha know how bitter it is. Even though we made weaker matcha for kids, it was totally amazing that kids loved it so much. The secret was the deep sea water. I don’t know why, but when you use deep sea water for cooking or making drinks, it always makes the taste a lot milder. Maybe because of its rich mineral content?? So, some think it ruins the real taste and flavor of tea or coffee, but some do like it.

Well, helping the event was kind of fun, after all, but I don’t know if I want to do this again in the future.

And the izakaya work that night just completely killed me. Honestly. :O
Dear readers,
Please help me with English. What's the difference between "desalted seawater" and "desalinated seawater?" The former had 217 hits and the latter had 9,540 hits with google, so the latter seems to be more popular, but is this a grammer thing or is there a difference in their production process or something?


Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,
Oh no, was it that bad? I thought traditional ceremony should be most dear to them who grew up with it, as they are hard to come by in later years. May be your family has too much of it... Breath, breath, don't collapse.

FooDcrazEE said...

hmmmm....wont the salt from the deep sea makes the tea a lil salty ?

Evangeline said...

deep sea water? o.o where do you get it from? i mean...surely you don't dive down and grab a bucketful right...

this sounds like another of those kinda weird japanese terms like far infrared rays (which I still don't get the concept of) XD

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful time. There seem to be so many wonderful ceremonies and festivals in your area. How fun....

Karen said...

Obachan, i loved matcha when i first tried it. I had even the opportunity to prepare it myself when i've been to japan some years ago.
If you don't mind, I would like to understand better how the japanese use deep sea water, my husband has drunk some sake that used it and he enjoyed it a lot.

JMom said...

Hi Obachan, another interesting post. I like the new layout too, btw. I though you migrated to wordpress or something ;-)

Off topic, I finally did the childhood meme you tagged me for. Sowwy for being so late :(.

obachan said...

I didn’t think it was "bad" at all. It was informal and funny.

SORRY! I forgot to mention that it was “desalted” deep sea water. ;P They sell both salty version and desalted version, and it’s the latter that we used for making tea.

Yeah, we are very good at diving. ;)
And if you're interested, you can find lots of deep-sea-water related information and research on the net.

I don’t know if I can call it wonderful, but it was a heart-warming community gathering, after all.

Oh, it’s so nice to hear that you have experienced serving matcha. Wasn’t it terrible to sit on your legs on tatami?

I guess several deep sea water related products such as drinking water, soft drinks, skin lotion, snacks and sake are sold throughout Japan, but I don't know how popular they are. Here in Muroto, it’s ABUSED. It’s used in almost everything. As far as the product needs water as an ingredient, it is substituted with deep sea water. We have salt made from it. Also we have tofu, konnyaku, pickles, jelly, soft drinks, liquid seasonings and sweets made with it, and fruits/vegetables that were given deep sea water while being grown in the fields, and even dried fish washed in deep sea water once and then sun-dried!! :D

It is said that something contained in deep sea water is good for certain fermentation process, or improves the taste of tomatoes, and researches seem to be going on in this prefecture. Also I heard about a research on its possible medical use.

obachan said...

Hi! Thanks. This is the result of my hidden longing for a 3 column template.
Now I’m thinking about getting the blogrolling thing (inspired by your site!)
And thanks for doing the meme. That reminds me… I still have a couple of them to do…

Oh it sure was interesting in many ways.

bilbo said...

you got tagged obachan :)


Karen said...

Thank you for the explanation, it is really interesting, if i were in Japan i would try those products! :-)

I didn't sit for a long time, it was a demonstration class and everybody got a chance to prepare matcha.

obachan said...

Wow, another meme?!?!
OK. I'll give it a try sometime... in the near future (hopefully.) ;P

Sounds like it was a nice demonstration. ;)

Rei said...

Simply put, desalinization is the process of removing salt, i.e., desalting sea water. Desalted water is the result of desalinization, salt separaed out from salty water by distillation, membrane-reverse osmosis, or other processes. I hope that makes sense or helps.

I also enjoy matcha tea. Do not know tea ceremony at all. I'm the only one I know that enjoys it so I prepare it for myself only.

I hope you will post your photo soon wearing kimono (you can put your smiley button face on).