黑巧克力 200克、鮮奶油100毫升、蜜糖 15毫升、山椒粉 1 克、巧克力粉適量
With one hand holding a metal tray in a simmering pot of water, Kisaragi constantly stirs a pool of chocolate inside the tray with another hand. Only after a while she takes off her glasses to wipe off the steam, and silently rehearses the procedure to herself in mind: heat up the chocolate over simmering water, cut big chunk into small chunks, and allow the small chunks to melt. Also heat whipping cream up over simmering water, add honey afterwards… Wearing a down jacket on this February day, she is preparing chocolate in a room with a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius. Valentine’s Day is the time to offer chocolate to your lover, but whether or not he is her lover? She doesn’t even have a faint idea.
Chocolate melts in the tray, there she adds in the whipping cream and stirs gently. Kisaragi suddenly remembers she might have already finished the pack of chocolate powder. She opens the fridge and sees pepper powder, sesame, star anise, herbs… she pushes them aside and a small bottle drops to the floor. Her foot barely catches the bottle before it rolls under the fridge. It’s a bottle of Japanese pepper from Shichimiya in Kyoto.
She could have forgotten about this bottle of Japanese pepper corn, a bottle that she hid in the corner of the fridge right after coming home from Kyoto two months ago. Although she intentionally covered it with different packs of food and seasonings, the bottle just pops out again to remind her of the night two months ago.
That was the second night of his Kyoto trip with Kisaragi. Earlier that day in the afternoon they went to Nishiki Market for rice with eel. He told her to put Japanese pepper powder on the eel like an authentic Kyoto person does. Japanese pepper is not spicy; instead it gives a tingling sensation on the tongue. Sweetness of the sauce for grilled eel rightly balances the tingling pepper. Sending bites and bites of rice into her mouth, she found the sweetness in sauce even more blissful with a tingling tongue. On the way to Kiyomizu-dera after lunch, they saw the spice shop Shichimiya on Sannen-zaka. From there Kisaragi bought a bottle of Japanese pepper powder.
After dinner, they went to a convenient store to get some dessert. Kisaragi got a cup of chocolate ice cream to enjoy while watching variety shows when back in their room. Arriving at the hotel, he passed the ice cream to her and said, “Do you mind waiting here for 10 minutes before coming up?” “Sure.” She took the ice cream and sharply turned away from the hotel lobby. She was well aware that his eyes would not linger on her back; he would go into the elevator when she was still in sight. She could imagine how he went back to the hotel room to call his wife, and tell her a made-up work schedule over the phone.
Kisaragi aimlessly walked to a bus stop nearby and sat on a bench. Suddenly she realized her fingertips were stuck to the ice cream paper cup as she held it too tight. It hurt when pulling her fingers away from the cup. She put the ice cream cup on the bench, and got hold of a cylinder bottle as she put her hands into her coat pocket. That was the Japanese pepper powder she bought at Shichimiya in the afternoon.
Unintentionally she popped open the lid with her thumb, closed it and popped it open again. There was no bus coming as it was already midnight. With only a couple passerbies, she could only hear the popping sound of the lid opening and closing. She guessed he was probably listening to his daughter talking about her day in kindergarten on a video call, pop… his wife might be asking about his dinner, pop… it’s likely that he has brought his family to the eel lunch place before, pop… Kisaragi poured a bit of the Japanese pepper powder onto her palm and licked it, that was so prickly.
It hurts. She quickly tore the ice cream cup open and had a small bite. The chocolate ice cream melted on her tongue and filled her mouth with sweetness. Her tongue was still occupied by the tinglingness, as sweetness was too short-lived. Only chillness was left when sweetness was gone, and it served no remedy for her tingling tongue.
Kisaragi picks up the pepper powder from the floor, opens the bottle and gives it a sniff. She doesn’t smell a strong scent of pepper probably for the fact that it has expired after all. Turning around she sees the pot of mixed cream and chocolate; she stares blankly at the pattern of reflection on the mix, then unconsciously sprinkles some Japanese pepper powder on it. Stirring it well, she tastes the tinglingness again after the nice sweetness. This pot of chocolate is something she dedicates to herself.
Chocolate with Japanese Pepper
200g of dark chocolate, 100ml of whipping cream, 15ml of honey, 1g of Japanese pepper powder, some chocolate powder
- Pour whipping cream into a heat-resistant container and bring it to simmer.
- Cut dark chocolate into small pieces, put in a heat-resistant container. Put the container in a pot of hot water, stir chocolate until melted.
- Add honey to whipping cream, stir until well-mixed
- Pour (3) into (2); add Japanese pepper powder and stir.
- Pour (4) into a rectangular container. Gently knock the container against the table to flatten the chocolate.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.
- Cut into small piece, sprinkle chocolate powder and it’s done.
Container of the day: Katachi glass by Shotoku Glass