Monday, July 23, 2012

Natsu Mikan  なつ ミかん

I've been wanting to try one of these for so long but somehow every time I stopped to admire them in the shiny glass cabinets of the local food hall I would shrug my shoulders, turn and keep walking... there was some lingering memory, way in the back alleys of my child-mind that somehow linked to the vision and reminded me of those "healthy" kid's b'day parties from my childhood when some "do-gooder" parent would go to the trouble of making relatively "healthful" party treats - when all we wanted was some cocktail franks, fairy bread and lolly bags filled with all kinds of crap  - and on that odd basis I was worried I'd be disappointed in this delicacy as a dessert.  Particularly odd and ironic as I would be the first one to be "do-gooding" should I be hosting my own children's parties... should I not have forgotten to have kids...  

Natsu Mikan is a particularly large summer Mandarin or Tangerine - they are very refreshing, a little tart but with just enough sweetness. This wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet), from Kyoto's famous Oimatsu in Arashiyama, is available in early summer when the fruit is in season. I was fortunate enough to be gifted one by my friend Tamai san when he came to visit one afternoon. I was extremely happy to receive it as, finally, I would get to taste this sweet that I'd been ignoring for the most obscure of reasons. 

It was delicious - served chilled , the sweet-tart jelly made from the freshly squeezed juice was one of the most refreshing desserts I might ever possibly enjoy on a summer's evening.  I highly recommend seeking one out if you are in Kyoto town during summer. And I might just have to steal the idea for my next book... shhhh...

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