eat

Have you ever heard of micro-basil?

micro_basil_balcony

マイクロ・バジルというバジルを聞いたことがありますか? ヒヨコさんからもらったたねの一つですが、たくさんありました。ちっちゃくて、おいしいです。

Micro-basil is small and tasty. Part of Hiyoko’s seed gift, this envelope contained by far the most seeds. Hundreds. As the sprouts grew larger, I started eating them as I thinned out the plants. Very tasty and delicate!

Gorgeous mini-pomegranates match home’s Showa-era, crimson ceramic tiles

pomegranate_nakano_ceramic_tile
ミニ・ザクロが本当に素敵ですね。昨日のヒマワリと同じの庭ですが、家の側で育っています。

I don’t know if you can eat these mini-pomegranates but they are really stunning. This is just on the other side of the wall from the yellow sunflower image I posted yesterday. I love how this gardener maximizes space by extending out into the public realm. The road-side part of her garden also gets more sunshine.

I am amazed that no stranger has yet eaten these sidewalk cherry tomatoes Chinese restaurant on busy sidewalk

cherry_tomatos_chineseresto_nakano_southexit
誰かがこの歩道のチェリートマトを食べていないのがすばらしいと思います。
Outside a Chinese restaurant on busy sidewalk.

Anybody want to eat some radishes?

baby_radish_nakano_balcony_home

ベランダに、ラディッシュがたくさんあります。だれか食べてくれませんか?

I’ve been growing radishes by seed since January, and now I am eating them every day. With the weather getting warmer, they are growing faster and faster. Does anybody in Tokyo want some radishes?

Balcony strawberries are lovely and delicious

ベランダのイチゴはきれいで美味しいです。フィルムの写真には真っ黒な部分があります。

The strawberry patch on my balcony has been a pleasure to look at and to eat. The fruits are small, and the flavor concentrated. I am also amazed by how black the dark areas are when shooting with film.

Balcony green pepper. It’s miniature perfection.

きれいなピーマンがゆっくりと育っています。たぶん、そのまま、小さいのを食べたほうがいいかもしれません。

This green pepper is growing slowly. Maybe I should just eat it now as a miniature vegetable?

Please contribute to Tokyo Local Fruit study

東京の地元で出来た果物を食べたり、育てたり、分け合ったりしていますか。地元で取れた、非商業の果物に関する話を集めています。あなたの話を聞かせてください。

アンケート:http://bit.ly/yVlIOI

Do you eat, grow, or share local fruit in Tokyo? We are collecting stories about Tokyo local, or non-commercial, fruit. Please share yours.

Survey: http://bit.ly/yVlIOI

Image: Jess Mantell. Project partners: Jess Mantell and Chris Berthelsen.

Espaliered persimmon in front of Aoyama school

「espalier」というフランス語の意味は木を垣根仕立てにすることです。東京ではちょっと珍しいですけど、混雑した都市の中で、この二次元にされた植物は適切です。最近、学校の前に背の高い垣根仕立てにした柿の木を見ました。

I am a big fan of espaliered trees. By pruning a tree into a 2D shape, it fits into the dense urban landscape. Here’s a mature, espaliered persimmon tree in front of a public school in Aoyama. I wonder if the kids will eat the fruit.

I am going to be posting this week different fall fruit trees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. What is your favorite urban fruit tree?

Edoble brings people together to eat free food growing in Tokyo

東京の「エドブル」は人を集めて、無料で料理を作ったり、食べたりします。
ハッサクという果物が食べられることを知っていますか? 区役所の公務員と一緒にハッサクを廃校になった中学校で収穫しました。先月、20人が集まって、ハッサクを切って、皮や種や膜を取って、マーマレードを作りました。もっとエドブルの料理パーティーに参加したい。

Through this blog, I was contacted by Edoble, whose tag line is “free food everywhere, in Tokyo.” Last month Edoble organized a hassaku marmelade party at a small shoutengai in Nakano, not far from where I live.

Edoble’s founder Jess Mantell is a Canadian designer, doctoral student, city explorer, and community organizer. As you can see from the poster above, she’s a great illustrator, too. At Keio University, she previously led a team that created an iPhone app that tracks movement across Tokyo with city sounds.

Edoble’s hassaku marmalade making event was great fun. Hassaku is a citrus tree that I often see growing in older gardens in Tokyo. The tree is very robust, and the fruits bright orange and large starting in winter. Seeing them makes me feel like there’s a bit of Florida or Southern California in Tokyo. But everyone had told me that the fruit is inedible. Jess’ idea was to bring people together to harvest and prepare hassaku.

It seems that if you pick the fruit at different times, the taste changes. Jess spotted mature hassaku trees in an abandoned city middle school near her house in south Nakano. She asked permission from the ward office to harvest the fruit in the spring, and several city workers unlocked the gate and joined her in collecting and sharing the fruit. That alone is pretty cool.

In June, Edoble hosted a marmalade party as a public event at a small space that is shared by the shoutengai association. On June 11, about twenty people very rapidly peeled the fruit, eliminated the membrane, put the seeds and membrane into a cheese cloth, and then boiled everything in four large pots. It was fun to see the amazing knife skills, particularly the older women and one young nursery school chef. We even got some help from some neighborhood kids.

The workshop was super-inspiring. It is great to realize how much food is growing in Tokyo, and that we can join with our neighbors in collecting and preparing super local food. Edoble’s accomplishment was in bringing together residents and local government, children and seniors, mostly Japanese and a few foreigners, mostly women and a few men.

Edoble reminds me that cities can grow a lot more of their own food, and that residents enjoy opportunities to work together and share food. Urban foraging is low cost and high return.

Summer is loquat season in Tokyo

東京のどこにも、びわの木があります。実の色が大好きです。だれでも食べられます。だけど、お隣が道でなっているびわを食べているところを見たことがありません。

Everywhere I walk in Tokyo, I see loquat trees (called biwa in Japanese 枇杷) on the sidewalks: planted between the sidewalk and roadway, next to a Royal Host, coming out of a shrine. Loquat seems well adapted to Tokyo, and it’s great to see such huge trees full of orange fruit and accessible from the street. I have to keep my eye out to see if the neighbors eat them.

Everyday cherry blossom viewing

路地の桜も楽しいんです。

The big cherry blossom sites, including Inokashira park, Yoyogi park and Yasukuni shrine, are wonderful places for get-togethers with outdoor drinking and eating. But I also love seeing the cherry trees in full bloom while walking around the city. This old cherry tree is blooming on a small street, with the Nakano high rise telecom tower in the background.

I also love how every public school has at least one cherry tree at the entrance; the elementary school nearby has a dusty soccer field surrounded on three side by gorgeous cherries.

Eating home-grown snow peas in Tokyo winter

サヤエンドウは今一番好きな冬の植物です。かざりにも食用にも、垂直に速く育つので、良いですよ。高層ビルのベランダで熟したサヤエンドウは、昼ご飯にこれから何度も使います。

Last week I made a quick curry rice lunch using Muji curry plus a store-bought tomato and home-grown snow peas. Snow peas are now my favorite Tokyo winter plant: decorative, edible, fast-growing, and vertical.

I got inspired by seeing a neighbor’s garden in November, buying starter plants, and watching them grow, and finally eating them. There’s at least a few more lunches ripening just outside my high-rise kitchen.

Update: Digging in the canvas pot that holds one of the peas, I came across the nursery tag. Apparently the two varieties are called キヌサヤエンドウ and ゆうさや。

Apple mint plant from “My little garden in Japan”

植物は、人と自然よりも、人と人をつなげることが多いようです。 面白いですね。Twitterの@mygardeninjapanさん、アップルミントをありがとうございます。ベランダからベランダへ。

It’s funny how plants connect you even more with people than nature. Thank you Twitter’s @mygardeninjapan for this apple mint. From balcony to balcony!

I recently met up with Twitter’s @mygardeninjapan after exchanging many online comments and thoroughly enjoying his detailed documentation of his balcony garden in Yokohama. Along with @a_small_lab and Tokyo DIY Gardening‘s Chris, we had a bento lunch in a temple garden and then a fascinating walk around the Omotesando danchi.

It was very kind of @mygardeninjapan to give us these small wooden pots with mint plants from his garden and hand-made signs with illustrated care instructions. His ladybug logo reminds me of his blog story about his efforts to attract ladybugs to his balcony garden. I am looking forward to growing and eating this mint in my balcony.