|RANT 'N' RAVE
The winter of my dish content
|Illustration by Marie
I've heard it said over and over how the
Japanese pay reverence to four distinct seasons. I've even surprised some people by
claiming that the weather in my hometown, New York City, very much resembles that of
Tokyo: Cold but little snow in the winter, hot and muggy in the summer, temperate spring
Eh? is the usual response. You mean, you have four seasons, too?
Well, yes, of course.
Ah, but the Japanese spirit is uniquely attuned to the changes in these seasons.
Bollocks, I say. Case in point: It is, by all external indicators, spring. The calendar
says so; the blossoms are blooming; parkas are packed; and the annual mouth mask
exhibitions are in full swing. It cannot, however, actually be spring because 7-Eleven is
still selling oden. And as anyone worth their shoyu knows, oden is a winter food.
I'll admit that certain out-of-season touches are nice; strawberries in winter, for
example. But 7-Eleven oden isn't one of them. It's a primordial muck so dank that life
forms once thought to be extinct still inhabit its viscous ooze.
Worse than its appearance, however, is its odor. The 7-Eleven variety of oden exudes an
aroma so vile that month-old kitty litter pales in comparison. Once a harbinger of winter,
the stench is now a virtual 7-Eleven trademark, an in-your-face, almost physical assault
that assails anyone that dares cross the threshold. An aromatic announcement that you have
arrived, and that it is winter.
Not any more. If Japanese did truly venerate the distinctions between seasons, someone,
somewhere, would make 7-Eleven cease this travesty, this slap in the face to the
traditions that many in this country still hold dear. And when that aroma has been
defeated, maybe once again people will feel safe to leave their houses without those
Many thanks to reader Frank Lee Mift for this Rant.