Just as the post-Christmas blahs were setting in, the most wonderful package arrived at my door, courtesy of Kat, creator of the awesome blog Our Adventures in Japan.
Kat, a fellow Hawaii-expat who blogs about her life in Japan, ran a contest recently. Inspired by the holidays to send a small gift to one of her readers, she ran a contest and asked us to share our thoughts about Japan. I like to think that my entry was so poignant and brilliant that Kat immediately chose me; what actually happened was that she received so many entries from her adoring readers that she ran the names through a random generator. Guess whose name it spat out? (Thank you, random generator.)
I love things that represent everyday life in other cultures. Having lived most of my life near the Asia-Pacific corridor (first in Hawaii, now near Seattle), I've seen my share of Japanese items and some of the things in the box looked familiar. But there were some surprises. There were also reminders that big international food companies produce different flavors of the same items for different markets (see the Kit Kat listing below).
The photo above doesn't do the shipment justice. Here's a partial list of some of the things Kat sent:
- A pair of pretty blue and white teacups and a pair of little dessert-sized plates in the same pattern.
- A set of plastic egg molds. According to Kat's English note (since all instructions were in Japanese), you put a hot hard-boiled egg into one of the molds, immerse it in cold water for a few minutes and you have an egg shaped like either a bear or rabbit! Who are the geniuses who think of these things?
- A cute plastic lunch container with a matching set of chopsticks and chopstick case.
- A postcard featuring one of Kat's many great photos.
- A box of Kit Kat in the flavor of ... get ready ... Caramel Macchiato McFlurry!
- Assorted bags of cookies. One bag is the McVities brand, with chocolate digestive cookies on the outside. The filling, if I understand correctly from the picture, is a center of red azuki bean surrounded by creamy green tea. I love chocolate and azuki bean, so I may not be sharing this one.
- Assorted bags of hard candies.
- Two bags of chocolate covered nuts. One of them is called The Caramel Corn and appears to be cashews covered in bittersweet chocolate and then dusted with a spice mixture of black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and allspice. Can't wait to try this one.
- A bag of wasabi-flavored arare (rice crackers).
- A bag of ume furikake. Our family loves furikake, which is a dry Japanese condiment usually containing bits of seaweed, sugar and other flavorings. This one contained bright red flakes, which puzzled me until I read Kat's note that it contained ume (bright red pickled plums). The red coloring, combined with the dark coloring of the seaweed flakes, makes for a really pretty combination.
- A bag of ume tea packets. Each packet contains a powder that you mix with a small cup of boiling water. To me it tasted like a light vegetable or miso broth with a light tangy flavoring from the ume. I wasn't sure I liked it at first sip but it really grew on me. It's a winner!
Kat, doomo arigato for your kindness and for brightening up my day!
If anyone out there has not read Kat's addictive blog, I highly suggest doing so, although not on an empty stomach. Kat is a great photographer AND gourmand, a dangerous combo in my book. She posts the most delicious and interesting looking culinary treats, both homemade and purchased. She also does a wonderful job giving us a look at everyday life in Japan (where she now lives with her husband Satoshi), stuff you would never find as a tourist.
I leave you with photos of the stamps that came with Kat's package. I don't know whom or what some of them represent, but they're fascinating to look at. My daughter has already swiped them for her journal and has claimed the chopsticks and lunch container for herself. See why I have to hide stuff?