Thursday, May 15, 2008


At least, so you might assume by looking at certain foods in the Land of the Rising Sun.

You’ve seen brown eggs? Sure you have. Every supermarket has ’em. But in Japan, in the little town of Owakudani, you can get kuro-tamago: black eggs, boiled in the local naturally-occurring hot spring waters (Owakudani means “Great Boiling Valley.”) The high sulfur content of the water turns the eggshells as black as the proverbial Ace of Spades. Scary to look at, but delicious.


Owakudani, the Great Boiling Valley. Click to embiggen, and you can see the people wandering around amidst the sulfurous fumes. Lingering too long is discouraged as the vapors are toxic.


You can buy a sleeve of six black eggs for ¥500, or about $5.

How ’bout other confections?

Kuro-goma na mochi

Kuro-goma na mochi: sweet black sesame rice cakes, all wrapped up in their fancy packaging.

Look at these evil-looking little Chunks o’ Goo. From the ebony color, you’d assume that these were licorice flavored candies, wouldn’t you? Many westerners associate black with the flavor of licorice.

But no. They’re actually little Snacky-Cakes made with rice flour and kuro-goma: black sesame seeds. They have a pleasant fine-grained cakey texture and a mild flavor vaguely reminiscent of halvah.

Elder Daughter is still kicking herself for not having tasted the kuro-goma flavored Häagen-Dazs while we were in Kyoto. Not black, exactly - more of a dark grey.

In Japan, at least, once you go Black, you might never go back...

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