The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ichigo - strawberries in Japan

Winter in Japan is the season for ichigo aka strawberries, which is a strange notion to those of us who normally associate berries with summer. No, it's not that strawberries naturally thrive in winter here, but that they are cultivated in greenhouses for harvesting during winter, and there's a reason for this - Christmas. According to this source, strawberries-and-cream decorated sponge cake has become a symbol of Christmas in Japan because of the red and white Christmas colours represented. Now, there's something about Japanese fruits that everyone should know. Yes, they can be notoriously expensive (like these grapes which was sold for US$910 for a bunch of 30 grapes back in August 2008), but the quality of fruits in Japan are always excellent. Ichigo is a prime example - they are almost always perfectly shaped and a gorgeous brilliant red, and best of all they are the sweetest strawberries I've ever eaten. I've heard some say that ichigo lack the tartness that characterises the taste of strawberries, but I much prefer sweet over tart anyday.

Here is a shot of a punnet I bought the other day for 300yen (it was more expensive at the beginning of winter, and will likely get cheaper as the season wears on):

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