Off-the-Eaten Path Food Experience in Japan. "Meet the People and Places behind your Plates! "

Saturday 19 March 2016

Kitchen Traveler (3) Owate, a slow food farmhouse teaching traditional way of living in Kyushu

Slow life in Owate farm

"Almost self sufficient except salt and sea products."

said a farmer, Tokimatsu san of Owate farm おわてin Oita prefecture in Kyushu九州.

Salt they use is also made by their friend.
Seasonings such as miso and shoyu, sugar(rice syrup) are also handmade.

"Using the power of science ensures stability, but living things change every day.
trees, ash, crops, they are all living nature."

I learned a lot of things from this farm; the variety of timber used for cooking differs in the purpose whether it is for boiling rice, or making arare(japanese snack made by rice), and also whether strong heating power is required, or long-lasting simmering flame is favorable.

the cooking recipes cannot tell when the crops were harvested or how they were grown, what types of soil. these all affect their way of cooking.

also, there are varieties of usu 臼, stone mill.
Mizubiki usu for grinding beans to make tofu,
and Konahiki usu for making powder,
Mikage ishi, granite stone is used for grinding tea leaves to make matcha powder.

Owate, located in the foot of Aso-Kuju mountain ranges, one of the national parks in kyushu.
the farmhouse was built in 1777  with traditional type of kamado (竃 kitchen stove) and irori (囲炉裏 fire place constructed in the floor).
Visitors can experience slow livelihood in their nouka-minshuku (farm inn) and their restaurant.

boiling tofu on irori

baking arare, rice snack 

Slow food is not at all SLOW!

Farmers are busy for living their life.
Today, we made tofu and konyac together, and amazake (sweet sake) at night, and had to make feed for livestock twice a day in the morning and in the evening.

aigamo, for rice-duck mixed cropping agriculture

feed for livestock cooked by steam from hot spring

We can eat tofu every day today. we can buy foods easily at supermarket.
making tofu takes half a day, but cannot be last more than 3 days without using anti-foaming agent.
farmers can only make tofu and also mochi (glutenous rice ball) in the special occasions, called "hare no hi" (honored day or festival day).

making kiri mochi for arare
It is easy to make konjac by using chemical coagulant and grinding machine.

regarding konjac, please see this article;
Learning How To Cook Devil's Tongue, Konjac

Hoever, the natural slow foods have magical tastes which cannot be imitate by using "the power of science".

Living things are always changing.
It's going well on same days, and not on the other days, as our lives depend on unstable, transitory nature. 

taste of dish could be different if the tablewares are dried under sun on sunny days.

"Even if making koji mold, rice syrup, miso every year, but new challenge every year."

ash from different timbers, just harvested soy beans,
nobody knows the content of moisture or degree of alkaline content, and so on.

Transient; that is why life is precious.
Like falling sakura flowers in spring, fleeting fragility is a part of Japanese sense of beauty.

Access to Owate

Farm Restaurant – Farm Accommodation Owate
Oita-ken, Kusu-gun, Kokonoe-machi
Ooaza Tano 321
Tel: + 81 (0) 973-73-0123