By Yuki Masami (auth.)
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Additional info for Foodscapes of Contemporary Japanese Women Writers: An Ecocritical Journey around the Hearth of Modernity
YUKI: You must have a keen eye and a fine sense for wild grasses and things from the sea. ISHIMURE: I remember my father telling me, “If there’s a famine, eat this. ” It seems he raised me with that kind of philosophy. Recently, people have started cultivating Japanese parsley or dropwart, but the cultivated dropwart just isn’t fragrant enough. It has a different smell than the wild dropwart. It is not as chewy either. 5 ISHIMURE: Nowadays the texture is so wet and sloppy. YUKI: So, there are some evident changes in fish as well.
YUKI: Would you say that when you hear “spring,” the first thing you think of is the sea? 19 20 F o o ds ca p e s o f J a p an e s e W o m e n W r i ters ISHIMURE: Yes. Life is quietly simmering. I get that feeling just going out to the shore. YUKI: And when you hear “spring,” you also think of wakame, yes? ISHIMURE: And sea-lettuce. To make soup, and to eat with vinegar. YUKI: You used to go out to collect sea lettuce by yourself back when you lived in Minamata? ISHIMURE: Yes, even though it was so cold my arms and legs would turn red.
Ishimure’s character then asks this woman, half-jokingly, if the wakamee she is selling is poisoned. Just after such an exchange, Ishimure’s character buys the wakame. All the people in the village, all of us who loved the sea, quickly found out that there was an unusually large breed of sardines and Li tera r y Re si st ance to T ox i c D is c o ur se 31 wakamee to be caught by the sea near Koiji Island at the wastewater outlet in Hyakken Harbor. Though it’s called Minamata disease wakamee kelp, it’s the taste of spring.