Farm to table is a new buzzword in the American restaurant scene. The phrase envokes images of fresh produce coming directly from the closest farm to your dish at the table. I am a sucker for such marketing and I have ordered dishes solely because one ingredient came from “the chef’s personal garden.” More than once, I splurged on simple dishes claiming fresh, local produce or anything grown on a nearby roof or nearby garden, even of the garden bordered a busy city street.
Today , farm to table happened in my own kitchen. Like a Food Network chef (or so I thought in my head), I drove straight to the source. I drove through fields of radish and leafy greens. Vibrant lavender encased the margins of the road. I drove past rice paddies and actual farmers tending the fields. This is an exotic experience for a city gal like me, but it may be uneventful to those familiar with farming. After driving the windy country roads through lush farms, I reached a wooden farmers market in the heart of farming country. Have I said “farm” enough?
The market is in an old wooden building with traditional Japanese architecture. It sits on a hilltop overlooking the mountains. Inside, there is a myriad of fruits, vegetables, homemade pickles, and locally raised meats. I picked up royal purple potatoes, white radishes half the length of my arm (daikon), button mushrooms, and local pork. I promptly brought my goodies home and cooked a hearty stew. Everyone partook of the feast, including my preschooler and baby.
Today I am snacking on local fruits pictured above. The plum is a staple of the Japanese diet, from pickles to wine to rice ball fillings to fresh fruit. The other fruit is locally grown and only available this time if year. It looks like an apricot with peach fuzz and tastes like a combination of peach and orange. Ittadakimasu! (Let’s eat!) What are your favorite Japanese foods? What Japanese foods peak your curiosity or gross you out?