Based in Toronto, Ontario, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Archival posts from my former blog, Walking and Talking

New Year's Feasting, Japanese Style

It was a full year ago when I reported this November-December 2011 Edible Manhattan article on osechi-ryori, the traditional Japanese New Year's foods that evoke memories of family, home and tradition for those who grew up in Japan or in an osechi-observant household.



Here's the gorgeous three-tiered box that chef Hideki Yasuoka of the Nippon Club in Manhattan prepared for the lucky members who pre-ordered boxes last year. The smaller ayu, or sweetfish, in the box at the fore are simmered for four hours in a soy and saké mixture until they will practically dissolve in your mouth, and each component contains symbolic meaning, usually pertaining to longevity, good fortune, fertility--all the things peoples' wish upon each other for the New Year.


Since I grew up eating these foods, I love them and wish I could eat them every New Year. Yet many Japanese have no real interest in these traditional foods. One year, I searched for the best osechi boxes in New York City to serve to two young relatives who were visiting from Japan. They turned up their noses at the boxes, and were much more interested in steaks and burgers.


My reporting took me to Katagiri, the Manhattan Japanese grocery store, where I talked to shoppers stocking up for their New Year's celebrations.

  

These New Year's decorations of plastic rice cakes and good luck Daruma dolls would be the equivalent of putting a fake Christmas tree up in your home. 

Thanks to the site Discover Nikkei, which re-posted my article here  and discussed it on Facebook, I've received some interesting feedback on the story. Nina Kahori Fallenbaum, food editor at Hyphen , introduced me to this amazing-looking place in San Francisco, Peko-Peko, which is offering this luxury osechi bento
I'm in Vancouver, B.C., now, where a quick search for osechi didn't turn up anything. If any of you know where I can find a good osechi box hereabouts, let me know!

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