Making traditional Japanese sweets in Kyoto with kids.
“We can argue the pleasures and dangers of sugar until our teeth fall out, but whether or not most children want the sweet stuff is rarely in question. How much is permissible, however, is always grounds for debate.
In what form you let the kids at them, though can depend on you. Sodas and lollipops may delight young taste buds, but despite their bright colors and decorative packaging, they do little to trigger one’s aesthetic pleasure centers. More often than not, they look exactly like what they are: sugar delivery systems.
With skill and hard work, however, an artisan can turn sweets into something more sublime. Just like the French patissier, the makers of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) use sugar and other ingredients to make edible art — objects of such beauty that you may feel guilty taking a bite from them. Often reflecting the colors of the present or upcoming season, okashi (sweets) take many forms, with the most common ingredients being mochi (glutinous rice cake) and various sweet beans. In a professional’s hands, these components combine to create exquisite little sculptures.”
Read the entire column at the Japan Times.