Today I had the rare pleasure of being invited, with the Delightful Miss E and some Australian friends, to my landlord’s house for a lunch of osechi ryori, the special new year’s food that Japanese love to eat at this time. The photo shows the main foods, all of which were hand cooked by our landlord and his family. Starting at the snow pea and going clockwise, we have:

  • A steamed snow pea
  • Beneath the snow pea, barely visible, Burdock root cooked in Mirin and soy sauce (as well as some lightly pickled carrots, invisible in this shot)
  • Two pressed fish cakes
  • A little flower of pickled carrot (the deep red flower-shaped thing)
  • A boiled sato imo (a type of potato)
  • Poking out from beneath this potato, just barely visible as a little tongue of yellow, cold herring eggs
  • A boiled kyo imo (a type of potato)
  • Konyaku (yam’s paste, sometimes called “Devil’s Tongue)
  • In the centre, the yellow curl is sweetened rolled grilled egg

It’s extremely rare to get an invitation to a Japanese family’s home on New Year’s Day – the equivalent of getting an invite to a Christmas dinner in the west – so we were feeling very privileged, especially to receive delicious home cooked food (actually the herring eggs were pretty awful). What’s more, one of our friends was vegan, but Mrs T had cooked a special version of the grilled egg, which used pumpkin and arrowroot flower instead of egg (and I would guess was probably much more delicious!) So, in return, I made my famous vegan lasagne, also known as “the carnivore conversion kit” or, amongst representatives of the meat industry, “public enemy number 1.” I shall put up the recipe in the next few days.

If you value your carnivorosity, stay well away from this!