A New Year


Standing in front of our home in Saitama with my mother and brother; I am six years old.


Japan has a unique tradition surrounding new year, called “toshi-koshi,” or “year-passing.” Once Christmas ends, the whole family begins to deep clean the entire house. Couples work together to wipe down, sweep, and vacuum all of the little nooks, corners, and cabinets and replace the paper shoji doors that have served them so well for the whole year. Once the cleaning comes to an end, New Year’s eve is approaching, and the family goes out to buy all of the groceries needed for the many-days preparation of a complex, decadent New Year's morning feast. Making the mochi by mashing rice in a big wooden container, pickling cabbage, stewing beans and slow cooking meats, softening kobu to make kombu-maki, and soaking various vegetables in vinegar; all are foods that are designed to last for many many days, symbolizing and embodying the coming year-long health and prosperity for the family. Supermarkets and convenience stores today make it so that anytime we are lacking an ingredient in our homes, it is so easy to go and buy it. But when I was younger, most stores were closed in the week following New Year’s, and thus the long-lasting dishes we’d prepare for the New Year’s morning had a double meaning of also needing to support the family without additional shopping in the days that came after. When the night before the New Year comes, it is tradition for us to eat “toshi-koshi soba,” or “year-passing noodles.” Perhaps this New Year’s eve is when I feel most like I’m back in Japan; instead of going to a New Year’s party, we all sit at home sipping noodles and soup, thinking about what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year. I intend to spend this coming year-passing in the way that I’ve always done it in Japan too.

In Japan there is a saying that says, “return to a time when you first started something” - to a time when your mind was yet to be tainted by the process of doing that thing. It’s meant to say that it’s important to reflect back on the steps you’ve taken from that initial thought, to think about how you put feelings and thoughts and dreams into action. Looking back now, I’m so grateful for all of the feelings and dreams, but also the actions and the people that brought me back to another New Year. I’m grateful to all of you who gave me the chance to bake for a family beyond my own. For January, I’ll be returning to those roots; instead of doing any baking with butter and sugar, I want to go back to when I was only baking bread, and focus on where this all started.


I will still be making bagels and English muffins, so if you’re interested, please let me know with an email. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

日本の年越しを知っていますか?クリスマスが過ぎると、どの家でも大掃除が始まり、1年間大事に使わせてもらった家の床や戸棚、障子の張り替えなど、夫婦揃って、子供たちも一緒に家中を綺麗にします。そして掃除が終わると、大晦日も近くになり、家族で食糧の買い出しをし、お正月に食べる数多くの料理の下ごしらえが始まります。お餅つきから始まり白菜漬け、煮豆や煮物、昆布巻きや酢の物などほとんどが日持ちするもので、それぞれの食材にはこれから一年の家族の健康や幸福をもたらす意味を含んだものがあえて用いられるのもこのお正月料理の特別なところです。今でこそコンビニエンスストアーやスーパーが大きく普及し、いつでも足りないものがあれば買いに行けるようになりましたが、私が子供の頃はお正月の1週間は多くのお店が閉まっていたので本当に年末に用意した食事を少しずつ食べて過ごす、というのが普通でした。そして大晦日、誰もが年越し蕎麦を食べて年を越すのです。この時期が一番日本の文化を感じる時のようにも感じます。新しい一年をどう過ごすか、家でのんびり過ごしながらゆっくり考えるのもなかなかいいものです。今年もパサディナで日本の年越しを頑張るつもりです。


「初心に返る」ということわざが日本にあります。最初の気持ちに戻って自分の踏み出した足元をもう一度しっかり見直す、といったような感じでしょうか?この一年、大勢の方に元気をもらってここまでやってこられたこと、本当に感謝しています。家族以外の人たちのためにパンを焼くチャンスをくださったこと、本当に感謝しています。

1月はバターやお砂糖を使った焼き菓子はお休みして、このスタートとなったパン一筋で販売する予定です。

ベーグルやイングリッシュマフィンはリクエストがあればメールでお知らせください。

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