Photographer: Satomi Matsui
In December of 2017, I once again paid a visit to Chiang Mai. The city was just as beautiful as always. I spent a great deal of time learning new recipes from friends and visited many local markets.
In addition to diving into Japanese cuisine and culture after producing the second volume of Away magazine, I asked Satomi what it’s like to celebrate New Year back in her native Japan. What type of traditional Japanese food she would make during that special time of the year? So we spent an entire day cooking together and she showed me how to make the various dishes included in Osechi Ryori.
Osechi Ryori (御節料理) is considered the most important meal of the year in Japan, as each dish serves as a well wish for the coming year. One such dish is Ozoni, a special soup with mochi (rice cake) in it that you eat in the morning on New Year's Day. Another is Nishiki tamago, a dish made from hard-boiled eggs with the yolk and whites separated. The white symbolizes silver, while the yellow stands for gold; these slices of egg cake are meant to draw in wealth and prosperity. I also particularly loved Umani - a delicious simmered vegetable and meat dish which goes really well with warm rice!
It was my first time styling for Osechi Ryori and I was a little nervous, everything already seemed so perfect, I kept telling myself not to ruin it. But I learned a lot by applying my creativity to a new dish which comes from a different country. Hopefully, in the near future, we will have more opportunity to meet and cook with people from different backgrounds, to share stories and experiences. Maybe that is the best way to feel less lonely even when you’re far away from your homeland on the first day of the New Year.