Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1886 - VEGETABLES IN JAPAN by Kizo Tamari

While following  leads on vegetables while reading Sturtevant's History of Vegetables I happened upon Kizo Tamari, the Japanese representative to the World's Exposition at New Orleans, who spoke to the the American Horticultural Society.  Since I was looking up everything anyway, I decided to share it with you.  

野菜 - Japanese - Edo period - Artist Kita Busei (Japanese, 1776–1856) - MFA Boston


"Kizo Tamari is the gentleman whom his government sent to the great World's Exposition at New Orleans in charge of the Japanese exhibit. Since the close of the Exposition he has been traveling in our country and studying our systems of agriculture and horticulture."

You will be surprised when I tell you that a single root of burdock sometimes sells for twenty-five cents in Japan. From this you would suppose that we have no good vegetables in our country. Our people are equally surprised to learn that a quart of blackberries often sells for a like sum here, and that they are here considered a delicious fruit. Taste is greatly the result of education.

There are many culinary vegetables of good quality in Japan. Here you have an abundance of delicious fruits. The existence of different ideas in two countries as to the choice of edible plants depends not only on the taste, but also on the habits of living, methods of cooking, etc. The appetite differs more or less in individuals of the same family. So it is with people of different nations. 

The climate, social conditions, etc., may have much to do with this. Some vegetables which we are fond of may be regarded as undesirable for your cookery. It may, however, be interesting to enumerate a few of our vegetables which are not much grown or which are quite new in this country, and to describe some of the different habits of plants in the different countries. We will place them in four or five groups, according to the purposes for which they are grown, so that you will readily understand the uses and nature of the different plants.

First are those grown for the root. There is no vegetable in Japan so extensively used, and which varies so much, as radishes. The roots are not small or round, nor red in color. They are mostly cylindrical, fusiform or club-shaped. They are from one-fourth of an inch to more than a foot in diameter, and are from six inches to more than a yard long. With so many varieties, we have them the year round. The spring varieties are small and solid; the autumn varieties are large and tender. Sakurashima, which grows in the southern island, is the largest one, and sweet. It is globular in form, growing through the winter, and increasing in size in the spring.

Our carrots are small, but longer than those grown in this country. They are from an inch to an inch and a half in diameter at the crown, and from two to two and a half feet in length. They are of high colors—yellow and orange.

Burdock comes third in general estimation as a Japanese culinary vegetable. The root is often grown to a foot in circumference and three feet in length. It will take a year to get such roots, but they are soft and delicious. The plants above mentioned require deep cultivation, and would not suit this country.

Among turnips there is a small, fine variety, of white color, which is used as radishes are in this country. Some are bright scarlet colors. In shape they are globular or oblong, and do not grow so large as radishes.

Taroes (Calocassia), of the Arum family, are very extensively grown, and are used as potatoes are with you. 
Alocassia, or Caladium, which is grown as an ornamental foliage plant in America, belongs to the same family, and possibly may be the same species. It is very profitable to grow in shady places, as in orchards. It is grown everywhere in the South and in the North, and but few insects are known to trouble it. (Since writing this, I now recollect that the broad leaves are sometimes eaten by a large green larva. K. T.) It is, also, very free from disease of any kind. The annual production may be estimated at six or seven million bushels. They taste like potatoes, but are more mealy. The rough skin is an objection to them. 
A kind of taro (Leucocassia giguntea Schott.) which is met with in the Southern States we cultivate for the stalk, which is used as a salad.

Konjak (Conaphollus konjakis grown in shady, moist ground. It is boiled and mashed up and made into gelatinous cakes, in which shape it enters into our kitchens. Common and sweet potatoes need no special notice. The former is grown comparatively little in the northern part, and the latter is extensively grown in the South, where farmers live almost entirely on this tuber, as the Irish do on the common potato in Ireland. A variety called Forty Days may be noticed on account of its earliness.
Konjak, which is also called konnyaku, like potato, is a good source of starch.  I found this cool video of an artist who uses it as a base to hold pigment. (Remember, I teach art :-)

The Japanese yam (Dioscorea Japunica) is used quite extensively. The roots of wild plants are best in quality. The roots will grow two inches in diameter and three or four feet long the first year. Digging them is hard, laborious work. A variety called Fist grows nearer the surface.
A variety of lily (lilium tigrinum) is grown in the corners of fields where the plowshare can not go, and thus the ground is economized. We get the bulbs two or three inches in diameter, in two or three years.
Our onions are not grown for the bulbs, but for the green, tender stalks, which are used like celery.
Peas and beans are so numerous in varieties that they can not be easily described. Besides common cultivated peas and beans, we have asparagus beans with long and tender pods, ensiform beans, many kinds of kidney beans and soy beans (soya hispida), etc. Some are used green, in pod, and the seeds are mostly used for making different kinds of cakes or as parched beans. The most important crop among our pulse is the soy bean. The annual product is about the same as that of wheat, viz.: eleven and one-half million bushels. This large amount is consumed in three different forms in our culinary uses, viz.: miso, shioyu and tofu. The first and second are made of the beans, wheat or barley, common salt and water; the first in the form of paste, and the second a liquid, commonly called Japanese sauce. The third is a white mass, made by coagulating extract juice of the bean with a solution of epsom salts. This is called Chinese cheese by the English.
Tofu is very extensively and commonly used, especially among those living apart from the seacoast, and where they can not get fresh fish, this is cooked and used as a substitute for fish. This bean is exceedingly rich in nitrogenous substances. It contains about thirty-seven per cent, of albuminoids, or over three times as much as wheat, barley, or oats, and one and a half times as much as peas or beans. So far, our people are the most extensive consumers of pulse of any people in the world. It seems to me that it is caused by the demand for nitrogenous food, which was almost excluded from animal food besides fishes on our table.
Egg plants are mostly oblong and large. Recently two Chinese varieties were introduced; one is very long and another very large and round. The former is about one inch by one foot and a half; the latter is over six inches in diameter. They are not popular.
Among the gourd family, our squashes are small, but solid and very sweet. They are flattened, deeply grooved, and of reddish color. A small oblong variety of golden muskmelon is common and popular. It is rich in flavor and taste.
Cucumbers are grown only for use in early spring, and afterwards varieties of cucumis common take their place. They are hardy and profitable. The gourd was formerly one of our novelties for receiving any liquid. Different forms of gourds are more or less artificially designed.
In the southern islands a large variety of lageniria daristemon (possibly the winter melon)  is grown sometimes two feet by three feet, of green skin and white powdered. The flesh is soft. In some parts varieties of luffa (L. patola) are used when young. Lately a large variety was introduced, being about eight to nine feet. When ripened, the inside network is used as a sponge.
Balsam apples (momordica charantia) are grown. They are commonly fusiform, but in the southern part there is a larger variety, white instead of green, which is not so bitter as the small green variety.

For leaves and flowers: we have no varieties of cabbages. What is here called Japanese cabbage is a variety of brassica chinensis, and is of Chinese origin. Varieties of this species are innumerable, and the leaves are unfolded, except the one above referred to. So it is with our spinaches. 

A kind of chrysanthemum (ch. coronarium) is cultivated for its leaves and stalks.
It is tender, and of fine flavor and used as spinaches. 

In this country this plant is grown for its flowers, which are both single and double. The stalk still seems to be tender. The flowers of the common chrysanthemum, generally of yellow color, are used in Japan. Before the flower fades away, the petals are collected and put in an iron pan on the fire and stirred till it boils, and afterward carefully dried in the sun, and kept in an airtight porcelain pot. It thus keeps in good flavor and color for several years. To use this, it should be put in boiling water for a few minutes and then into cold water.

 Young flowers of amomon mioga and petasites Japonica are used for relishes in season.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Amomum mioga
Amomum mioga = Myogamyoga ginger or Japanese ginger (myōga (茗荷?)) is the species Zingiber mioga in the Zingiberaceae family.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Petasites japonicus
Petasites japonicus, also known as fuki (フキ(蕗、苳、款冬、菜蕗)?)bog rhubarbJapanese sweet coltsfoot or giant butterbur, is an herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae.

For its young shoots and stalks: aralia cordata is grown  as asparagus,  crypiotaenia  canadensis is cultivated like celery, and used to cook. 

Two kinds of fern 
(Pteris aquilina and asmunda regalis) are used. (CAUTION: Pteris aquilina contains the carcinogenic compound ptaquiloside,[4] and communities (mainly in Japan) where the young stems are used as a vegetable have some of the highest stomach cancer rates in the world.[5] Wikipedia)   These ferns, bamboo shoots, and some others, are rather wild grown, but some are forced in hotbeds or carefully manured. 

A bamboo bush near a large town adds a large amount of income to the owner. Six or seven kinds are commonly known as edible. 
Among aquatic plants, the most common vegetable is lotus (nelumbium necifera) or African water lily. The leaves and flowers are very large. They grow in marshy land or in ponds. The roots are over four feet long, having 5-6 internodes and 7-8 holes vertically inside. They are mealy and wholesome. A Chinese variety, lately introduced, is very large, being about three inches in diameter, but the internode is shorter than the original variety. 
A variety of arrow-head (sajitaria sajtiifdia) is grown in marshy land. The tuber has a good flavor, but is a little bitter in taste. 
Flora Danica illustration of Sagittaria sagittifolia

Tuber of water chestnut (»cirpus tuberosus) is smaller than that of the above. This is used in a raw state. The young shoots of brosenia per tata, which grows in an old pond, is covered with a transparent gelatinous substance. This is used as a delicacy. Different species of sea weeds (seven species common) are used. The highly esteemed species is porphyra vulgaris. This is made into shape like thin sheets of paper, for the sake of convenience. Culture of this weed and making into the sheet is one of our important industries.

There is one more group remaining to be spoken of. This comprises those which are used for flavoring or relishes, as horse-radish, water-cress, etc.    
Wasabi (entrema wisabi) is the best representative for fragrant, sweet, acrid taste. It is used just like horse-radish, but is more noble. The best roots are cultivated only in clear spring water running down the mountain valleys. 
Young leaves of polygonum japonicum are used like water cress. The leaves and spikes of fragrant basil (perilla arguta) are used in different ways so as to impart fine fragrance and a deep purple color. A variety of deep purple and curled leaves may be fitted to ornamental foliage plants like coleus in this country.

 Kizo-Tamari was educated in this country. He went to Michigan Agricultural College and taught there for years then returned to Japan to become the president of an agricultural college, the Kagoshima Higher School of Agriculture and Forestry in Kagoshima, Japan.  

Catalogue of Officers and Graduates, Michigan State College, 1857-1911

 from: University of Illinois DirectoryListing the 35,000 Persons who Have Ever Been Connected with the Urbana-Champaign Departments, Including Officers of Instruction and Administration and 1397 Deceased

Transactions of the American Horticultural Society, Volume 4