Eating out / Edo period shaved ice revived
CHIBA — The owner of a Japanese restaurant and a tearoom in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, has recreated Uji kintoki shaved ice, which was loved by aristocrats during the Edo period (1603-1867). The syrup-free dessert has gained popularity at the restaurant for its classic sweetness.
Sakafumi Matsumoto, 34, is the restaurant’s owner and a researcher at Tokyo University of Agriculture. He started research on the history of shaved ice four years ago.
He says the dessert’s history dates back to the Heian period (from the late eighth century to the late 12th century), when ice was precious even for noble families. In those days, people created ice at night by pouring melted snow water into “ice rooms” they dug on the ground.
“Makura no Soshi” (The Pillow Book) — an essay written by court lady and poet Sei Shonagon — contains the phrase “I added amazura to the shaved ice.” This indicates that people used to pour a sweetener made from the juice of boiled and reduced amazura vine over the cool dessert.
In the Edo period, a production method was established for a sugar variety called wasanbonto, which was made from sugar cane. The shaved ice flavor with wasanbonto and matcha powder, called Uji gori, was very popular among aristocrats, including those of the kuge class. When it was served with the bean paste as a topping, it was called Uji kintoki.
To re-create Uji kintoki like the old times, Matsumoto uses sugar made from sugar cane and matcha powder from the Mitsuboshien Kanbayashisannyu Honten tea store in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. He also places a portion of red bean paste on the top.
Freshly ground matcha powder is not bitter, and the finely crushed ice melts slowly, allowing the sweetness to slowly spread in the mouth.
Matsumoto said: “Popular historical figures enjoyed this taste, too. Gastronomy isn’t just a matter of deliciousness, but also of romanticism. I hope this shaved ice stimulates gourmands’ intellectual curiosity.”
LDOCEでは、“the art and science of cooking and eating good food”と定義されていました。記事の中でも少し説明されていますが、味だけではなく、見た目など料理全般を楽しんだり、究めたりすることを指すようです。
ちなみに、“gastronomic”「料理の腕がよい；美食[食通]の」、“gastronome,gastronomer”「美食家、食通」などという派生語もありました。これらに共通する“gastro-”には「胃の」という意味があり、“gastro scope”で「胃(内視)鏡、胃カメラ」という表現もあります。今回の“gastronomy”も、食べ物が胃で消化されるということからこういった単語の構造になっているのではないかと思います。(Blue Sky)