My grandparents on my mom’s side of the family are farmers in Iwate, Japan, where I was born. They own a rice paddy or two and also grow things like corn, cucumber, tomatoes, radish, spinach, cabbage, pumpkin, potatoes and eggplant. I used to help out a bit when I was younger, and in return I was constantly spoiled with fresh vegetables.
Yesterday, a package my grandparents had sent us arrived. What took up most space in the box was rice from their farm. My mom had helped them plant the seedlings into the paddy when she visited in April. We’re waiting to have the rice until my brother and sister come from for Thanksgiving.
There was also dried seaweed produced in the area heavily affected by the tsunami two years ago. Resiliency amazes me. Tasted so good in miso soup.
Also included in the package was monaka, which is a staple item in every package sent by my grandparents. It’s a Japanese sweet made of red bean paste filling covered with a thin layer of crisp wafers. There are different kinds of filling, like sesame seed and white bean paste. They usually send us way too many of them that we end up giving them away, but we don’t have the heart to tell my grandpa who is convinced that it is our favorite. He always buys them from the same store and tells the workers there about his grandchildren who live in faraway America. We had the honor of finally meeting these workers, who had been proving us with quality monaka for years now, the last time we visited Japan.
The grandparents also sent us Kamome no Tamago, which translates to Seagull’s Egg. It tastes way better than it sounds. It’s white bean filling covered with a thin layer of cake coated with a really thin layer of white chocolate. But THIS time, they sent us the limited edition seasonal version. They were chestnut-flavored. I love everything chestnut-flavored.
My grandma sent us taro stem, tofu, and dried radish, all of which were made and grown by her. Also miso paste, but not made by her. Miso tastes different depending on where you go in Japan, and they sent us the local miso from the area we’re from.
Last but not least, their letters. My grandma usually writes a short, funny letter that expresses her easygoing personality. This time was no different, but she had written her letter on the back of a printed notification stating that her radish had won third place in the local vegetable festival. She was sure that her pumpkin would place pretty high, but it didn’t win anything, while the radish that she hadn’t been paying any attention to did great. My grandpa, on the other hand, writes detailed, beautifully written letters that show his serious and precise nature. His is the one in the photo. His letters are my favorite part about their packages. This time he mentioned that thanks to their source of health, alcohol, they’re still doing very well. He takes some days off, while grandma does not.
My grandparents on my dad’s side are fishermen.