Summertime Treats 夏の料理
Ritual was suika wari with a watermelon.
Kakigori green tea.
Zaru soba tray.
Grilled ayu a summer festival.
The Japanese summer is hot. Very hot! Inside, the air conditioning may offer a break, but outside, you might find it hard to find a corner in the shade. Fortunately, some sweets can bring a cool touch to your stay.
More than just refreshment, watermelons are an integral part of Japanese summer. On Japanese beaches people regularly have suika-wari parties, literally "watermelon-splitting parties" These involve hitting the watermelon with a baseball bat while blindfolded, until it breaks and can be enjoyed by everyone.
But the popularity of the fruit does not stop there. In recent years, producers have modified the shapes of watermelon (squares, hearts, pyramids...) to make them more convenient to carry, or simply more original. But their prices are often much higher than the traditional round shape.
What's better than ice under the blazing sun? With various flavors, kakigori is cups of shaved ice like freshly fallen snow covered in the syrup of your choice. Among the most popular flavors are cherry, blueberry, lemon, green tea, and melon.
A dessert once reserved for the Japanese elite, kakigori has become a popular and inexpensive treat that can now be made at home. In Kyoto, the shop Gion Koishi is famous for its delicious cups of shaved ice.
- Cold noodles
A signature dish of the summer, cold noodles, or zaru soba, served alone or with vegetable tempura (fried vegetables) is a fresh, light, and a popular Japanese food.
These buckwheat noodles are soaked in a cold broth made of water, soy sauce, mirin (a sweet cooking sake) and dashi (a fish or seaweed based broth).
In early June, grilled ayu season starts. These freshwater fish are lightly sweet and have a subtle texture that makes them among the most popular food at summer festivals.
Traditionally, people barbecue and eat ayu while remembering the fish's tough journey up river against the current. Like carp, it is a symbol for the Japanese of perseverance and courage.
Every year in June, people begin making umeshu, a Japanese alcohol made from plums, sake and sugar. Fermentation requires almost a year!
Renowned for its invigorating power, umeshu is an effective remedy against the tiredness associated with hot weather! Served with ice or fresh water, this drink is the perfect aperitif to enjoy on the kawayuka in Kyoto, special terraces set up in the early summer along the Kamogawa River.