October and November is the harvest time! Festivals are being held around town. Yesterday the community in Sashimaki area also held the 17th Annual Harvest Festival.
This was the largest community event of the year, at which locals enthusiastically participate in competitions of “Delicious Rice,” “Picked Vegetables,” “Sake no Sakana” (a side dish to drink with), and “Oyaki” (pan-fried rice cake with filling).
Judges represented from the community and the city government, as well as other organizations related to agriculture and tourism. Representing the local tourism industry, Tazawako Tourism Association also engaged in the selecting process as we were pleased with our palates!
|Brown rice samples --- can you see the differences?|
Each rice sample was numbered and judged anonymously. The uncooked brown rice were screened by the experts, while the cooked white rice were scored individually in scale of 1 to 10 with careful attention to details such as aroma, glutinousness, glossiness, preference, taste, and preference ---using all the five senses!
|Sake no Sakana Category|
|The winner was "Chrysanthemum and Crescent Seasoned with Sesami Dressing (Left top corner)|
Akita has a rich culture of preseved foods. Pickled vegetables are a quintessential example. Here in this competition, many uncommon variations of pickled vegetables were brought in -- such as miso-pickled persimmons, beer-pickled radishes, and spaghetti squash pickled with kankoji, a pickling agent made with rice and rice-malt that is regional specialty in southern Akita!
|Pickled Vegetables ("Tsukemono") Category:|
Miso-Pickled Persimmons (center right), Beer-Pickled Radish (right second from the bottom), Kankoji-Pickled Spaghetti Squash (Left second from the top).
“Oyaki” is perhaps what makes this festival so unique! None of 6 kinds submitted was common one (plain anko-filled) --- It is a very competitive category, indeed!
|Oyaki Category: The winner was filled with Shiso (Perilla) and Miso, left bottom.|
After the thorough evaluation (and a lot of eating), the scores were calculated and announced at the following ceremony (more eating followed). The judges unanimously agreed that rice was the hardest to evaluate due to the very subtle differences; but, after all the samples were delicious! Speaking from the product development perspective, a judge insisted: some dishes are so innovative that they should be made into new products! Awards were given to the winners as well as humorous certificates!
This community is strongly bonded and displays such humble, humorous, and heart-warming quality. The people warmly welcomes the invited guests and keep us satisfied – which explains the great success of Sashimaki Mizubasho Festival every year!