ビーズ 1 [beads]
You can't put a price on reasonably priced food
Besides among people, disparity exists among mushrooms, too, and it's actually pretty extreme. Enokidake mushrooms, which have long, skinny white stems and tiny caps and are used in tabletop-cooked one-pot nabe dishes, are sold for only 100 yen a bunch. On the other hand, a single domestic matsutake 松茸mushroom can fetch 10,000 yen or thereabouts. Moreover, this mushroom has always received every kind of hyperbolic praise from epicurean writers in Japan.
Masaaki Tachihara (1926-1980) wrote: "Sautee the matsukate, pile them on a large plate of Bizen ware (a type of Japanese pottery), and squeeze fresh sudachi citrus juice onto them. For me, this is the best way to enjoy matsutake." Kenichi Yoshida (1912-1977) said of matsutake's fragrance, "Sometimes, I can even hear music in it."
I wouldn't dare to ask for a big plate of this expensive delicacy, but I certainly would love a whiff or two of what was "music" to Yoshida's nostrils.
However, this year's matsutake harvest is said to be unprecedentedly meager due to the record summer heat and prolonged drought. It appears that this seasonal luxury is going to be even less affordable this year.
Now, it's one thing to sigh in resignation at this, but much more disturbing is the recent rise in the prices of everyday groceries that are indispensable to families with growing children--juice, curry roux, ham, spaghetti and bread, just to name a few.
Price hikes are also scheduled early next year for items preferred by adults such as beer, miso bean paste and ingredients for oden.
Unlike with matsutake, the higher prices of these daily necessities are going to squeeze household budgets. One cannot feign a stiff upper lip by claiming not to really love them.
How do we survive the crunch? Sticking to sale items may be one way, but a column in the living section of The Asahi Shimbun advises: "When in doubt, don't buy."
In "Reizoko de Shokuhin o Kusarasu Nihonjin" (Japanese who let their food spoil in the fridge), published by The Asahi Shimbun, author Jinnosuke Uotsuka says that we need to start with modifying our lifestyle of loading up the shopping cart, cramming many things into the freezing compartment of our giant fridges, and forgetting about them.
Nowadays we hear so much about Chinese imports of dubious safety and false labels on food by Japanese makers, not to mention the rising food prices.
I become upset whenever I come across unwelcome news concerning food. Perhaps this is because of instinct, as no living being can do without food.
Even though there is a lot of bad news on food, with the deepening of the autumn, I find the modest price of enokidake all the more endearing on cold nights.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 3(IHT/Asahi: November 10,2007)