Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kyoto by Way of Brazil

          It was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit last night when K proposed going downtown to listen to a local duo—Mistura Fina—play Brazilian jazz and samba in the park. Just in case you've never been to Kansas City, let me assure you that summer is exactly the wrong time for any kind of outdoor activity at all. But K is passionate about guitar, so we filled a water bottle and I hunted up the bamboo gimme fans we got in Kyoto as a radio station promotion, and off went we to enjoy Brazilian guitar while sweltering. The fans took some of the swelter out, for which we were grateful.

Mo' Cool in Kyoto.
©Nancy E. Banks

          They had been similarly useful in Kyoto, which also boasts hot, humid summer weather. Strangely, although almost all I can think about in Kansas City is the weather, what I remember most about Kyoto is not weather-related.
          I remember the Nishiki Market, which featured a gorgeous monochromatic composition of vegetables being pickled (in miso, maybe—can't remember):

©Nancy E. Banks
          The tea store owner who obligingly showed us the Tea Ceremony:

          The splendidly large and hungry koi in the pond at tea shop where we stopped for an afternoon snack:

Possibly the koi got so by big eating Green Tea Sweets.
©Nancy E. Banks
          And the green tea sweet (I never knew its actual name) that I ordered at the tea shop.  It was delicious—green, of course, and viscous—less firm than jelly, but not runny. It was served on a plate, with a short, sharpened bamboo stick to chase it around with. It wasn't firm enough to slice and spear, and I don't remember how I actually managed to eat it, only that it was very slow going.
          I'm still not sure whether the stick was the truly traditional eating utensil for Green Tea Sweet, or whether the staff had a bit of a sense of humor about these things.

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