Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SpyShopper-- Snacks for Hinamatsuri


Hinamatsuri, in addition to the Dolls being put up, has several snacks and foods associated with it, one of which is pictured above.  It's Hisamochi, though you don't eat it as is.  Mochi has to be grilled first so that it gets soft and chewy.  This is the one snack that is also a part of the doll sets--you can usually see plastic versions on little stands (yesterday's post shows it as next to the Minister of the Right), and generally in the Three Colors of Spring pictured above.

My kids' favorite, though, is Hina Arare--also in white, pink green. Traditionally, I think this is roasted mochi pieces, but the kind we get seem to me more like a puffed rice snack.  "Arare" just means diced or chopped with reference to food, so it must mean (I think) the small pieces of this snack.  This kind is sweet (a little), sweetened with sugar instead of soy sauce.  I got a couple of bags for the kids...well, ostensibly for them;-))  And like all Hinamatsuri snacks, this one is decorated with the Emperor and Empress and the lanterns and plum blossoms. 

Even snacks like caramel curls (which are out all the time) will put out special packaging runs for Hinamatsuri.  See how the character of the bag has been turned into the Hina Emperor (left, holding his shaku, wearing his little hat, lantern to the side)On the right is special run Peach flavor (pink and white curls), with the character representing the Empress (see her gold crown?).

Today they got Koala no March, a snack they like year-round (chocolate-filled cookie puffs, a little like small ravioli but made of thin cookie.  And chocolate inside--reason enough to eat anything)...

Koala HinaDoll Cookies!

On Mar 3 (tomorrow), they'll get these beautiful snacks I found, each with a plastic plum blossom twisty-tied on.  Plum Blossom hard candies on the left, Hisamochi-shaped jellies in the middle, and another hard candy made to look just like those round, clear pieces of glass (like flat marbles) used for games (the name escapes me at the moment--I'll update when I remember).

candies displayed at Daiei on tiered cloth-covered shelves 

And this year, for special, we're going to try drinking a little AmaZake--sweet sake.  It's sake, but the alcohol content is very low, since is isn't completely fermented.  It's a bit like drinking slightly sweet, slightly alcohol-y rice that's gone to mush.  It's thick, not clear like regular sake.  Some people like it, some don't (my husband doesn't care for it).  I did not, however, buy that huge bottle of it (*mercy*!  It'd be in the fridge for the next twenty years, I'm sure)...

...I just got a small can, so they can taste it.  Ama Zake is drunk warm both for Hinamatsuri and for New Year's (they were handing out small paper cups of it at the area where we went to watch the Hakone Ekiden Marathon)...

I'll let you know whether they like it or not!

Even Daiei had a beautiful Hina-Ningyo set out (Ningyo = Doll) above the snacks (along with the Hinamatsuri song playing on continuous loop...).  I thought their set was somewhat unusual, in that is has three tiers, but instead of the Court Musicians (the usual third tier), this one has The Ministers of the Left and Right!  My favorites!  I'm sure Lewis Carroll could work them in to Wonderland...;-))

Mata asobou, ne!
Tomorrow:  Recipe--Chirashizushi for Hinamatsuri


  1. OMG!!! Koala Yummies!!! SQUEE! We had those available for a short, brief time. But no longer. Sniff. I could totally go for their koala chocolateyness.
    Also, what does Hisamochi taste like? I'm completey intrigued by this idea that you have to grill it first...

  2. You had Koala no March in the US? I've never seen those for sale over there! My kids *love* them (and I'm fond of them myself;-)) I wonder why they were only available for a short time? I would think they'd take off and be really popular!

    Hisamochi tastes like regular mochi--which is to say, like rice (which is what it is). Mochi is glutinous rice that's been cooked and then pounded 'til it's a sticky uniform mass. It's then shaped into rectangles (usually) or circles. You can put it into zenzai (sweet boiled azuki bean soup) or sprinkle it with Kinako (soybean flour--has a little bit of a peanut butter taste) or wrap it in nori and dip it in soy sauce. I should just write a Mochi post! :-))

  3. yeah you probably should.
    Yep we had them availble here for a short time. i think you still may be able to find them in some specialty shops, but you can't just pick them up at the grocery store.

  4. week is busy-busy, but the week after I can do a mochi post! Just for you:-))