Thursday, May 05, 2005


by AJ

I rolled the jelly-like sweet around my mouth. It slid smoothly on my tongue... slight powdery taste and a strong dose of sugar.

Shiori told me how the delicacy was made: Take the roots of the kudzu plant, mash them and add water, Heat this mash and cook until sticky, Then add sugar and mix in cherry blossoms, beanpaste, or other flavorings.

We sat and ate at Tsukino Usagi, a traditional-style tea and dessert shop near Yokogawa train station. The owner, Kawaoka Yukiko, brought clay cups for tea... green and tan with rough glaze. We sat at a blond wooden table-- horseshoe shaped, fresh flower arrangement in the center of the curve.

We sipped Hajicha (Roasted tea) and nibbled kudzu cakes.

"Sometimes kudzu is used as a medicine to improve metabolism. Its also good for menopause", Shiori told me. "Its a little expensive".

My mind drifted to the rolling seas of kudzu that cover Georgia. Georgians have been trying to hack, burn, and poison the stuff for years... but it keeps rolling over the landscape- consuming hillsides and trees.

Perhaps we've had the wrong idea. There may be opportunities here-- harvest that redneck vine and ship it to Japan! And why not create our own kudzu delicacies?

I gulped the cake and washed it with roasted tea, thinking "the folks in Georgia don't know what they're missing."


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