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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Collection of Quick Recipes for Rice Cakes and Sweets

The image to the left is from the Japanese book: Collection of Quick Recipes for Rice Cakes and Sweets written by Jippensha Ikku (十返舎 一九, 1765 – September 12, 1831).

Jippensha Ikku was the pen name of Sadakazu Shigeta (重田 貞一, surname first), a Japanese writer active during the late Edo period of Japan. He lived primarily in Edo in the service of samurai, but also spent some time in Osaka as a townsman.

He was married three times, two of which were quickly ended by fathers-in-law who could not understand his literary habits.

I think I understand that. It takes a very understanding person to be married to a writer who needs to essentially lock himself away every day to write.

Anyhow... for a mere US$2,500, you could own a 32 folding leaf book from 1805 that contains recipes to create your own mochi rice cakes and other Japanese sweets - offered for sale by renowned bookseller Jonathan A. Hill. of New York -

Yes, you could go and just look stuff up on the Interweb, but why?

People like to own things in societies not bothered with communism. You aren’t a commie, are ya?

Wouldn’t you like to own a nice book? … to feel the pages of a paper book in their hand… to be utterly confused because you can’t read the somewhat archaic Japanese script… or… realize that despite the serious intent of the author, he has a sense of humor… and so there are a few treats you can’t make.

Seriously… you do know that anyone can put anything up on the Internet under the guise of a blog, website or Wikipedia?

Books from this era (1805) … there was no checking of facts and figures… it was the hopeful concept of an editor/publisher knowing if the writer was incorrect in something written.

Apparently this is a very rare book… and is a First Edition. The WorldCat for books ( - the so-called world's largest book catalogue) only reveals the publication of a 1970 and 2003 reprints of the original edition… meaning there isn’t a known copy of the original… but that’s all balderdash… where did they get the material to publish those two editions if they didn’t have an older/original edition to copy? Right.

So… we can assume there are more 1805 copies out there… only how do you know that the 1970 and 2003 copies weren’t copied from this one copy being sold by Johnathon A. Hill?

We don’t.

For those unaware, mochi (餅, もち) is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into a gooey paste and molded into the desired shape.

Here’s how Mr. Hill describes the book:

Two double-page & six full-page illus. in the text. 32 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers (worming throughout, carefully repaired), new stitching. Tokyo:
First edition and very rare; WorldCat locates only the 1970 and 2003 reprints. This work gives 75 recipes for sweets made from rice, beans, wheat, and other ingredients.
(Author) Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831), is most famous for his humorous travel novel Shank’s Mare (Hizakurige). In the present work, he applies his wit to confectionaries.
“The gap between ingredients and cooking techniques on the one hand and nomenclature on the other is even wider in the 1805 confectionery text assembledby the comic novelist Jippensha Ikku.
He includes two recipes for nanban sweets. The first is Southern Barbarian Candy (nanban ame); the modern editors note it is similar to a recipe in an earlier confectionery text, but that it is not an easily identifiable sweet due to the idiosyncratic way the author miswrote the Chinese character for sugar in the recipe. The recipe that follows for a sweet called Southern Barbarian Kiosen is even more
problematic, since there is nothing called kiosen, which literally means ‘treeyellow decoction.’ The modern editors of the text identify it as a pun on a sweet popular in Kyoto called jiosen. While the editors fault Jippensha Ikku for his sloppiness, he is clearly having fun with words, which are occupational tools for this comic novelist, rather than terms used in the confectionery trade. His southern barbarian sweets, like the recipes in other mid-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century culinary books, indicate that the term southern barbarian sweet had become a free-floating referent that could be used to lend any dish an exotic or comedic air.”–Rath, Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, p. 110.
The playful illustrations depict steaming and pounding the rice into mochi, boiling rice to make dumplings, toasting the rice cakes, and a scene of a merchant preparing the rice cakes “Kyoto style.”
In spite of the repaired worming, a very good copy of an extremely rare book.

Look - even if you can’t read the book (understand it), the art is decent... and it was suggested I needed to get off the war theme I was on... because eating mochi never killed anyone... much.

Between 2006-2009, 18 people died from choking while trying to eat mochi.

Andrew "Mochi ado about nothing" Joseph
PS: Thanks, Vinnie!

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