Wednesday, 12 January 2011 by kinakoJam
I enjoy learning kanji, in a masochistic kind of way, but lately I am starting to wonder if I'll ever graduate from, say, reading the ingredients on the back of instant egg soup packets. There are just so many kanji to learn, and so few spare hours in the day. No surprise, then, that I botched my New Year's calligraphy attempt at Mamecha café in Berlin last week.
Maybe it's just a challenge that I'm not meant to overcome in this lifetime.
I feel similarly about sponge cake.
Particularly castella, the very soft yet densely-crumbed Japanese sponge derived from a Spanish or Portuguese recipe in Nagasaki quite a few centuries ago. There are many recipes I'm willing to attack in the name of creative reconstruction, but castella is not one of them. There just wouldn't be any point in creating a cake that was anything less than pristine and box-fresh.
I've been doing Japanese night classes lately, and tonight our teacher served up pieces of an Ichi Roku Taruto cake that she'd bought when visiting her parents over new years. The rolled sponge was like a next level castella.
Flavoured with yuzu citrus and rolled with azuki bean paste, its unearthly uniform perfection was like a fleeting dream: the essence of everything beautiful that we will never quite find the time for.