This is what youÂ enjoy in JapanÂ when you wake up on January 1st and forÂ the following two days.Â This is Osechi ryori, the New Year’s feast that has been diligentlyÂ prepared during theÂ final week of December. The photos shown hereÂ are dishes that wereÂ prepared by my sister, Keiko Arakawa in Tokyo, Japan.
Each food item in its own compartment in a beautiful lacquerwareÂ box has its own reason to appearÂ in the New Year’s meal. Take a look at some of these examples! Kazunoko (herring roe) – salt-cured herring roe consists ofÂ hundreds of tinyÂ eggs stuck together in one firm, long piece, covered with a very thin membrane. The size of herring roe is about 4 inches long. It is golden yellow in color and creates sharp noisyÂ crunchiness in the mouth.Â The largeÂ number of tiny eggsÂ symbolizes “family prosperity”. The birth rate in Japan is sharply decreasing. We better to eat more herring roe…Tazukuri (baby sardine) – Looking at these small fish on the plate, tiny, glittering, with black eyes staring at you, you mayÂ feel a bit threatened. Well, for us, these fish bring good luck and are an excellent source of calcium as well.Â Osechi ryori was once prepared at each home using the help of all female members of the family including grand-ma and daughters. Today as the number of multi-generational families is much reduced, the preparation of Osechi ryori, which requires considerable labor, time and money, is being shunned. Now famous restaurants cater their Osechi ryori to large department stores for devoted customers (prices can go up to $3,000) and many food companies sell reasonably priced, pre-made and pre-packed varieties at local supermarkets. No matter how you startÂ the New Year with or withoutÂ Osechi ryori I wish you a happy healthy 2009!