Look! Spring is Here!

San Francisco

With apologies to everyone who got snow this weekend, but it is indeed spring here on the West Coast! The proof? Well, locally grown lilacs and asparagus at the farmer's market for starters. Lamb and fresh peas are peeking around the corner. But the real proof? The real harbinger of spring in any community that has a Japanese immigrant population? Sakuramochi!

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Sakuramochi is an amazing seasonal mochi treat made with sweet mochi (rice flour and water that is steamed and cooked) and sweet red bean paste that is wrapped in a salted cherry leaf. It appears briefly in spring, when the cherry trees begin to leaf out, usually in late March and early April.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I have to say that lately I'm really appreciating things that have a brief season. There's a sweet poignancy about experiencing something in its season and then poof! it's gone. Somehow, this enhances my experience rather than diminishes it.

Having it all, at any time and at any price, is no longer interesting to me. But a simple, delicate treat that appears briefly at a wondrous, beautiful time is precious.

What speaks of Spring in your world? Have you seen it yet?

(Images, front page: Dana Velden and this page, and a recipe: Sakuramochi)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.