1/01/2008

Otoso & Osechi --- Japanese New Year Drink & Food


This is mini- osechi that I bought at super market near my place. This doesn't have the whole thing,but I cannot finish it all by myself, so this is enough. About 2,000 yen, equivalent to 17 US dollars.
Each food has the meaning of good luck. For instance, the far left is black beans and it tastes sweet. Mame ( beans ) also means diligence. So, it means " work diligently and make money.( My friend made some comments after reading this. Yes, mame also means live healthy in this feast. I would say the translation is --- Work diligently and stay healthy. ) " The shrimp indicates longevity since the shape is like old man whose back is bent.
30 to 40 years ago, mothers, grand mothers used to cook each food. I remember when I was small, January 2 was the day for big gathering of the family members. I have like 14 cousins or more ??? and aunts and uncles, grand mother, grand father grand mother's sister etc...... Women were in the kitchen cooking food. However, it is lots of work. Nowadays, people in the city don't cook everything. Just a part of it or buy the whole set from department stores or well-known restaurants. The origin of Osechi is said that " you are supposed to be quiet in new year's kitchen since the god is coming." Also, the shops used to be closed for 5 days or more. So, this food was sort of preservative food during new year holidays. Then, it also made women rest and relieve them from cooking during new year.
Otoso is sort of new year sake cocktail. There is a pack of herb you can find in the shop and soak it into Mirin & Sake. This is supposed to avoid evil spirit.

4 comments:

Bill said...

That looks like a fantastic way to celebrate the new year! Can you describe the other items? What's the yellow item at the back right? And also the pink and white ones at the back left? And what are those things beside the shrimp? They all look very tempting. And I notice a clear film over the items at the front left - what's that?

Happy New Year from Bill

yumikoc said...

あけましておめでとう、ヤスコ!本年もよろしくー。母によると、おせちの黒豆は、「健康」という方のまめの意味らしいよー。(昨日義理の弟のイーライに説明してた。)

alwayseating said...

yumikoc,

Thank you for your comment & Happy
New Year to you , too !
Since people from many countries are reading this, let me translate what you just said.
" Kuromame( Black beans ) is to wish health." According to yumiko's mother. Thank you, I learned this " deligence" meaning from my parents or somebody a while ago.
http://www.ict.ne.jp/gurume/osechi/index.html
Probably, it has both meaning.
( Sorry, this website is in Japanese only. )

alwayseating said...

Dear Bill,

Yellow item at the back right is called "datemaki" made of egg. It seems this yellow color adds floridness. Little sweet. Pink and white ones in the back left are fish sausages called " kamaboko". Meaning ? Sorry, I am not sure, but the color gives impression of celebrating ambiance. Beside the shrimp is scallops seasoned by soysauce. Clear film is probably the plastic lid to avoid drying. It is good to have these and celebrate new year. I finished this plate yesterday, that was good. At my parents place, I have to keep eating for at least 3 days..... after while, you would miss normal food !!