Apricot Viewing in Nagano
Hanami, “Cherry Blossom Viewing,” is the hot event in Japan come early spring. There’s a big to-do around viewing the flowers while hanging out with friends or associates, drinking and partying beneath the trees. Unfortunately, Tokyo was rainy and cold during ohanami this season so I didn’t get the full experience. Last weekend, I ended up going to Nagano (via shinkansen!) with my host family to visit my host parent’s daughter’s family, who lives there. Nagano is further north than Tokyo, so the sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom later and weren’t in full bloom when I visited. But another local flower—the apricot—was in full bloom! Me and the fam drove out to the country to walk through some apricot fields, eat some apricot ice cream, and taste some apricots. Hopefully I won’t be lazy and will get around to posting about the trip soon.
We brought some really delicious dried, yet moist apricots back home to Tokyo. Even though having someone cook for me regularly is a pleasure I may never be able to indulge in again, I still miss cooking for myself and trying out new recipes. Tonight I spontaneously decided I wanted to cook something with the apricots. Risotto was a perfect choice, as rice is never in short supply here, so I bust out a recipe that I found on Manifest: Vegan. I used non-vegan substitutes for the almond milk and margarine cuz of course my host mom don’t have vegan subs in her kitchen offhand. This was my first risotto (unless you count rice pudding) but it turned out great and my host parents liked it. Okaasan says she’s stuck in a rut and cooks the same dishes all the time, so my host parents really get a kick out of it when I cook for them and introduce them to new dishes.
Tomorrow and Friday I’m cooking two more dinners for them, so wish me luck!