Friday, November 25, 2011

illustration friday (round)


There are two gift-giving seasons in Japan. One is in the summer and one is in the winter. Winter gifts often involve agricultural produce for which the sender's home prefecture is known. Each winter I receive a case of potatoes from an old friend in south-western Hokkaido, a case of tangerines from an even older friend in Nagoya, and a case of persimmons from the oldest friend of all in Shikoku. I reciprocate by sending each of them a case of lily roots, a rather high-class vegetable that is often used in New Year dishes. 90% of the domestic product is produced in my home prefecture of Hokkaido. I also try to send each of these friends an Etegami thank-you card with a painted image of the gift I received from them.

I never tire of the gifts, even though my friends have been sending me the same thing every year for over twenty years. I base my winter shopping and meal plans on the assumption that I will have lots of potatoes, tangerines and persimmons. And I suspect my friends make similar plans each year around the lily roots that I send them.

The problem is, I run out of new ways to depict this produce in my Etegami thank-you cards. I've painted whole persimmons, halved persimmons, persimmon wedges, persimmon pie, persimmons in the box, persimmons on the branch, persimmons in salads... One year when I was at loss for a new way to paint persimmons, I decided to slice them cross-wise, which is never done, because it makes them harder to eat or use in cooking. It did provide a new and interesting visual perspective though. So I accompanied the image with the words: "A Change in Perspective."

For those of you who have never seen a lily root, here is a smaller image from one of my illustrated recipes. Lily root is a lot of fun to cook with. You can see that it's (sort of) round too. : )

13 comments:

  1. Wow!!! I love this tradition. I wish I could send agricultural products to a friend. Actually, we sort of do with a few friends. When I go to the grocery store and find a good deal on some vegetables, I buy extra for my friend but she mostly lives in the Philippines now. I like that you send your friends etegami. That's wonderful. Thes paintings are beautiful.

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  2. How nice that you have many friends in Japan and you can hear many things and eat foods.
    I live in Kawagoe in Saitama prefercture. :)

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  3. I'm curious to know what the lily roots taste like, is there a similar taste?

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  4. @Carole, Lily Root is a starchy vegetable similar in some ways to potato. But when parboiled, it has a lovely fresh crunchiness, and when cooked through, it is has a far silkier texture than any potato I've ever had. It is milder and sweeter, without the earthy, sometimes bitter aftertaste you can get from potatoes. You can check out my lily root recipes on my cooking blog:
    http://dosankodebbie.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/lily-root-in-three-courses/

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  5. Wow, those are some stunning oranges and reds and I love the composition. The gift exchange does indeed sound like a terrific tradition.

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  6. je ne savais même pas que les racines de lys se mangeaient.............peut être pas les mêmes racines q'en France????????je vais me renseigner!
    merci
    Corinne60

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  7. you always happen to have the perfect picture with the perfect write-up. perfect even this time. love it!

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  8. The etegami is so beautiful on its own, but the story adds so much to the delight of visiting your IF submission. Thank you.

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  9. Lovely post, such inviting images. The line just gets me.

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  10. I've been away from my blog a bit, and yours is always one of the first I like to catch up with. So many wonderful entries... I love this gift-giving tradition. In today's over-the-top materialistic society (Black Friday, indeed!) I find this amazingly charming. Wish we did it here!

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  11. Beautiful! I think you have perfected the painting of persimmons. I'm so happy to find you blog again: )

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  12. Your persimmons have such a succulent, fresh look I find my mouth watering. Though we can get persimmons here, they are never as fresh or as delicious as those I had in Japan.

    What I think I miss the most is hoshi-gaki. I loved traveling and seeing them hanging like garlands drying in the sun. So beautiful to look at and so tasty to eat.

    I love the cross section of the fruit. It is, indeed, a different way of seeing the fruit.

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