Saturday, 5 January 2013

Osechi ryori

Osechi ryori is a  Japanese New Year thing.  Wikipedia gives a thorough explanation which will make any general statements about it redundant, except the fact it's cold, and fishy,  and mostly not particularly tasty.  Hiro's parents - who were born in the late 1930s used to have New Year food at Chinese New Year as children but aren't quite sure when the shift was made to the Western New Year.   There are some parts that are national (though my guess is that like many "national" customs NHK and the eduction system help a lot with national synthesis), and other parts that are local.  I don't think stingray is eaten in many places.
This year NY was toned down, though much less so than last year.  Hiro's father's sister died so the "red things" - prawns, crab, red rice etc were scaled back.  
Hiro bought crab for a nabe, but that didn't seem to be a problem.  Sometimes the rules aren't very clear...  One of Hiro's father's relatives (the matchmater that arranged their wedding) died on the 29th, the funeral was held the following day.  The left overs are brought home in a doggy bag. 
Hiro was remarking how unfashionable osechi has become... but that his mother likes to maintain the tradition.  There is much scope to transform the tradition.
Home made osechi

Supermarket osechi is not very different - except for the shell fish.

More osechi, though I wonder  if this is local - I don't imagine
most places have zenmai in their nimono.

Funerals have a custom of "doggy bags" - what you don't eat, you can take home.
It's quite likely this is a rural thing.  This is the doggy bag
from the funeral of the matchmaker.

Osechi with the doggy bag food made the dinner complete.


Rurousha said...

A funeral doggy bag? It seems to be a universal practice to stuff your face at funerals, but I guess it makes sense: eat and be merry, for tomorrow it's your turn.

PS: It was revealed this morning that toasted mochi with honey is mega-sticky but mega-delicious. It's a bit like watermelon, though: you can either eat it in a civilized way, or you can enjoy it. I managed to get honey in my hair. :D

Cecilia said...

You sometimes hear grumbles at funerals that the food is too similar to wedding foods. Apparently funeral food used to be shojin ryori. (But that might be a regional thing, but it sounds logical).

Honey is very good for the hair isn't it? Thoroughly win-win.

SomedaysSarah said...

We were served an assortment of osechi with fruit and toast dripping with butter for breakfast in the 1st at our ryokan in Nikko... Not a good East-West combo, I think Ru's mochi and honey idea sounds much much better!!!

Cecilia said...

Oh, oh, and oh.... no ozoni? no toshikoshi? That doesn't sound like a good combination at all...

I forgot to take pictures of this part of NY food.

Theresa said...

What I like best about osechi is that it's a great conversation topic. Every year the mother-in-law gets a ready-made osechi box and then we can talk about what's in it and how it's prepared and how it tastes rather than sit in silence looking at the TV. She gets down right chatty, a rarity. Sam had the last of the osechi leftovers last night. I tried to finish the Western-style pate but it tasted like chalk and I couldn't. Didn't even taste like cat food, which one can deal with. There were also beef tongue slices that were terrible, offensively under seasoned. Of course I, the barbarian, am given the foreign things in the osechi box, like a garbage disposal. Fine, I will consume all the cheese and the meat, it is my culture.

Cecilia said...

Hiro's parents' neighbours swap osechi parts. MIL was given two boxes of salmon, which she gave more than half of to neighbours. The kuro mame and daikon came from one neighbour. I am not quite sure what MIL made to exchange.
Hiro's father was chastized for saying he doesn't like eating other households food because it doesn't taste the same... I don't think anyone disagreed actually, it just seemed ungrateful to actually articulate it.

Cheese and meat is so enlightened... I wonder if I can introduce western osechi by stealth... I wish I had NY with someone who drank champagne...