Day 1: A Japanese Taste Treat
I’ve been having this urge to bake. Baking means I’m feeling creative and happy enough to make something delicious to show my love for others. Baking for me has always been something I do for others. Thinking of them as I shape dough with my bare, floured hands. When the dough is too dry or wet and obscenities spurt from me like a geyser, I remind myself that others will feel warm and loved when my sugary creation touches their lips.
I’ve been challenged to turn that love onto myself and bake something that I, too, can enjoy. I have some dietary restrictions and tastebud quirks (I feel meh about chocolate), so it was surprisingly difficult to think about giving this gift to myself. It felt selfish and a little scary to have an entire dessert that potentially no one else would be interested in eating. Like many others, food and I have a complicated relationship.
Because I spent a semester in Kyoto, Japan as an exchange student, I decided on a red bean cake–a riff on the famous mochi dessert. Mochi are sticky, powdery rice flour balls that often have a mildly sweet red bean paste in the center.
I went to Asheville’s local Asian grocery store Kim’s to pick up some ingredients and got myself some mochi for inspiration. While eating my mochi, I realized I’d chosen the perfect self-care dessert. These flavors evoked tatami mats, sulphurous hot springs, midnight walks to the Circle K, an epic kabuki performance, getting my too-big boots stuck in the rice paddy fields while I helped with planting, and prompt and clean public transportation. These memories were mine alone, and so it was ok if this dessert would be, too.