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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eating Deep-Fried Maple Leaves

Thank-you Caroline, for another story lead—this one involving how the Japanese are enjoying a tasty delicacy that is only in Japan. Pity, eh?

If that 'eh' at the end of the sentence isn't enough to make you realize it has something to do with Canada, then take-off, eh, you hoser.

Well, maybe you don't need to take-off, because it only sort of has Canadian's up in arms. Not me, though and I'm Canadian.

In Japan, folks are creating tempura using maple leaves as the main ingredient, which has many Canadians wondering why they didn't come up with that concept first.

Popular in the western part of Japan known as Osaka, this new food sensation is momiji tempura.

First - the Japanese will eat anything - then again, so will a lot of differing cultures eat stuff others will think is crazy!

I am pretty sure as a Canadian that I need not be jealous at anyone eating vegetation that we call garbage.

By the way, the Japanese long haw-hawed at us westerners for us eating tuna - or whatever the hell we call that stuff we get from a can.

Of course, it's white meat from the tuna fish and it is very tasty once enveloped in a creamy melange of mayonnaise and relish (that's what I add, anyways), but to the Japanese, the white meat of the tuna fish was considered the garbage part of the fish, and they did not consume it until maybe 30 years ago, or less.

To the Japanese, the red meat was the only part of the tun at that was worth consuming.

As for the whole thing about us puck-slapping, maple tree-sucking Canuckleheads being upset that we should have thought about deep-frying maple leaves first for consumption… really?

And some of you Canadians are upset because someone else is eating our garbage?

I'm unsure just what sort of nutritional value a maple leaf contains, and even less sure what sort of nutritional value a deep-fried maple leaf contains, and even less sure than that what sort of nutritional value anything deep-fried contains, but I do know one thing…

If you deep-fry anything, it's going to taste pretty good, and me and my high cholesterol can vouch for that.

Cripes… if the Japanese want to eat maple leaves - go ahead.

Just keep in mind that they are probably eating JAPANESE maple leaves… not our precious Canadian maple leaves, which I am pretty sure the maple trees grow like weeds in my backyard and are actually Manitoba maple leaf trees, which sucks since I am a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan.

So… does it taste good? Deep-fried, probably. Have you ever eaten a maple leaf, though? Have you ever jumped into a freshly raked pile of leaves and accidentally got one of the foul, wet leaves in your mouth?

You're damn right you spit that piece of soggy vegetable detritus out of your mouth and then scrape your tongue. You know it tastes like crap - perhaps because some dog has taken a crap on it sometime earlier… but even then… it's horrible.

It ain't pretty, it just looks that way.

Selfies, by the way, are extremely difficult to take with a digital camera and one's foot.

Jealous of the Japanese for eating maple leaf tempura? This is the same country that eats: raw horse (basashi); raw cow liver (gyu riba); rotting and fermented soy beans a la natto; bee larvae (hachino-ko); grasshopper (imago) and other things you simply do not want to know about.

You do know that sushi has seaweed in it, right? I know, no biggie for most people, but what about fugu - a blowfish with poisonous parts that is eaten for more of a challenge than for the fact that it is the most awesome tasting fish ever - because it's not. It's okay, though.

Personally, excluding the horse and cow liver, I enjoyed eating the others in copious quantities - but not everyone will.

So… Japan… munch away on that stuff that falls dead from my trees, if it saves me the time and effort of having to rake it up. You, too you jealous foodies - I have all the leaves you want! Hell, you can try some black walnut leaves or plum leaves or pear tree leaves - I have this in the back, too. I've got dogwood, too, if you are daring. I've got roses, too - ooh - and some mandrake… ya gotta try the mandrake! That stuff'll kill ya!

To quote the famous gastropod, or whatever you want to call things that enjoy eating food - oh yeah, they are called 'living creatures', one Marie Antoinette said: "Let them eat cake." I believe Caroline said "Let me eat cake", but that's got nothing to do with this.

Let's not lose our heads here. I bet if she (her royal highness) (the French one) (... sigh, Marie) had know a little more of the Japanese, she would have told the French commoners to eat the detritus as some new sort of desert, but then, timing is everything.

For the record, even the Japanese are aware that the momji tempura has no flavor other than what the batter lends it. In fact, these aren't even freshly dead maple leaves!

Despite the urge to just pluck a leaf off a tree, gathers hunt maple leaves that have just turned red... but then they have a process the leaf must go through before it is ready for deep-frying.

Of course it does - everything in Japan has a process.

Since it has no flavor, you'd think you could just pluck a leaf or a shoe, slather it in a doughy batter and deep-fry it, charge people a lot of money claiming its the 'it' food and then laugh as they eat someone's lawn waste...

But no... these Japanese tempura cooks are not only raking in the profits from gullible Japanese foodies craving the next best thing, but they have created a whole process to ensure the maple leaves being chewed are a unique eating experience.

The cooks, or rather underlings, take the free leafy ingredients and soak them in a salty brine in a barrel for one year - as though that might give it some flavor.

But it doesn't… but I bet if you then dried the 'salt-encrusted' leaves, I bet it would maintain its shape a bit better when it is battered and then deep-fried. No wagering, please.

For the consumer, it is all about the food having an interesting shape, which, if you ask me, is a piss-poor reason to eat food.

It should taste good and, if you are lucky, be good for you. I would still prefer the former, however.

Somewhere raking my lawn (still),
Andrew Joseph


  1. and now....

    :) /cml

    1. CML? Cheap Mexican Labour? Interesting story regardless... the leaves were bitter, so unless it was caked in honey and chocolate, and then deep-fried, I wouldn't eat it... unless... you first.

  2. hey, it's Canoe... unlikely they're serving up bitter fair. Num num num! but out of my budget with uni costs looming :(. and the M is good Catholic girl M.

    1. Canoe... yeah... I'd go but I hate sitting alone. I still am unsure how you take something bitter and make it taste anything but bitter.

  3. They pickle it! BTW, if you go back to the Huff Post piece, they link to your blog down at the very end, above the comments field :)

    1. Holy crap! That is awesome! I AM linked to the Huffington Post, with THIS very article at the VERY bottom of the page: