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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mmm, Taiyaki

I love taiyaki, those odd little confections from Japan in the shape of a sea bream, but actually with no fish flavor at all. They are a mix of a pancake-like batter with a sweet filling, often a sweet bean filling make from Azuki beans. As a child, sometimes when we left the California Flower Market and there was time, we would drive out to Benkyodo, where they had a taiyaki grill. They would make them fresh throughout the day and you would get a large, crispy pastry filled with warm bean paste. They were so good. Today, I happened to be near a store in San Mateo that makes tiny ones in both the azuki filling and other flavors more modern than the old azuki bean flavor. I got some azuki (my old friend) and some caramel-coffee (just had to try). I still love them, even is they are not 'authentic'.
Of late, I have been giving a lot of thought to 'authentic' foods, as to the meaning of traditional, authentic or original as it applies to food and cuisine. These little guys are cooked by Japanese guys, using Japanese tools, with Japanese flavor, but, I wonder, is it authentic or traditional? What makes a certain food or cuisine authentic?

I know this, this was authentic for me today, as authentic and traditional for me as it was when I was a 5 year old boy walking with my dad and my hot 'goldfish donut'.


  1. I've been thinking about "authenticity" too, and I wonder if it all boils down to whether the person making the food is trying to make the food as close to the "authentic" way as possible, or is trying to make a new food.

    I like imagawayaki, but they weren't in these cute fish shapes. What does "tai" in taiyaki mean?

  2. Tai refers to the shape, imagined to be similar to the fish called Tai (or Matai) in Japan. It is a species of Sea Bream. It is probably the same as imagawayaki, but, in a cute fish shape.

  3. Those confections look tasty regardless of their authenticity. I've greatly enjoyed our discussions about authenticity. It has lead me to appreciate the context of foods more.

  4. I have some more thoughts on authenticity and the lexicon of food. But, perhaps will start that up with my ramen post coming.