American chefs and gourmands have recently rediscovered seasonality and locality —eating and celebrating the ingredients specific to the season and region. In Japan these notions never faded from the cultural imagination. On November 4, the college community was treated to a fascinating lecture on the significance of “shun,” or “seasonality” to Japanese cuisine, and the special cuisine of the Akita region, presented by Dr. Yosuke Hashimoto, a professor at our partner institution, Akita International University. With its clearly differentiated seasons, Akita enjoys a variety of delicious foodstuffs, each with its high season. And to survive through its long winter, the region developed various fermented foods, including the prototype of modern sushi-rice. Dr. Hashimoto accompanied his talk with mouthwatering photos of seasonal and local specialties, and samples of Japanese sembei rice crackers and tea.
On the following day, Dr. Hashimoto prepared several local Akita specialities together with the residents of Japanese House, the language-immersion residence hall in Preston Hall, including soup, hot-pot, and perhaps Akita’s most representative dish, kiritanpo—mashed rice shaped around skewers, toasted, and served with sweetened miso paste. Both events were organized as extensions of Tomoko Kato’s course on “Washoku,” or Japanese traditional cuisine, taught in Japanese. As you can see from the photos, it all made for a very convivial evening!