Saturday, January 7, 2017
let them eat grass
It's customary in Japan to eat a rice porridge called nanakusa-gayu (literal translation: seven-grass rice porridge) on January 7th, the Festival of Seven Herbs. You can find a chart that lists which seven "grasses" (herbs) go into the porridge at this Wikipedia link, which also explains that "The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year."
Yesterday it became clear that my husband had come down with a serious chest cold, so I made a thin version of a smooth green vegetable soup I often make for him. And since it also happened to be the day of the Festival of Seven Herbs, I made a game out of including exactly seven green plants in the soup. Specifically: spinach, shiso leaves, parsley, green onions, celery, broccoli, and iso-nori (a laver-like seaweed that grows on rocks), all blended into a base of chicken broth. It isn't seven-herbs rice porridge, but it's really quite tasty.