⟨ Food ⟩

Chocolate with Japanese pepper

To the fading love...

Words and Photography / 林琪香
Translation / Iris Heung

如月眼前一陣朦朧,但也不急著理會,一手扶著煮著熱水的鍋上的金屬盤子,一手不停地攪拌著盤子裡的巧克力,好一陣子,才摘下眼鏡,隨意在身上擦了擦,心裡暗唸著:「巧克力必須隔水加熱,大塊切成小塊,小塊溶成漿。鮮奶油也隔水加熱,加熱後放蜜糖……」二月天,她穿著羽絨衣,在氣溫只有八度的室內做著巧克力。情人節巧克力送給情人,可是那個他是否她的情人,連她自己也不知道。

盤子裡的巧克力溶化了,拌進了鮮奶油,輕輕攪拌時,如月才想起家裡的巧克力粉好像用完了。打開冰箱,撥過一包又一包的調味劑:胡椒粉、芝麻、八角、香草……啪嗒一聲,一個瓶子掉在地上,在滾到冰箱前的一刻給她用腳截進了。是一瓶山椒,京都七味家的。

如月差點就忘記這瓶山椒,兩個月前,她將之從京都帶回家後,便把它塞到冰箱的角落裡,刻意讓它埋沒在各種大包小包之下。偏偏這時,它又要跑出來,提醒她,兩個月前的那個深夜。


那天夜晚,是如月跟他往京都旅行的第二天,中午時他們到錦市場吃鰻魚飯,他著如月在鰻魚上灑上山椒粉,說這是京都人正宗的吃法。山椒麻而不辣,在舌頭感到麻痺的一瞬間,鰻魚醬汁的甜味將知覺拉回來,她一口接一口,麻痺後的甜美似乎更濃郁更令人回味。飯後到清水寺,於三年坂的路上遇上賣香辛料的老舖七味家,如月便帶走了一瓶山椒粉。

晚餐過後他們往便利店買甜點,如月選了巧克力冰淇淋,原本打算回房間一起邊看綜藝節目邊吃的,可是我到達酒店門前時,他把冰淇淋遞到她手上:「你可以在這裡待著,十分鐘後才上去嗎?」「嗯。」如月接過冰淇淋,頭也不回地走出酒店大堂,她知道他大概只會注視她的背影數秒,在她還在他視線範圍內時,便轉身鑽進電梯,往房間致電太太,胡亂扯著虛構的工作行程。

如月漫無目的地走到酒店附近的公車站,在椅子上坐下來呆了半响,才發現自己把冰淇淋握得太緊,凝著碎冰的紙杯已黏住她的指頭。扯開手指來時一陣痛,她將冰淇淋隨意放在椅子上,把手伸進大衣口袋裡,摸到一個塑膠的圓瓶子,是下午時在七味家買的山椒粉。

她不自覺地用姆指把蓋子彈開了,又合上來,彈開了,又合上來。深夜時份,公車已停駛,路上零零落落數個行人,街上只有蓋子開合時發出的啪噠啪噠。此時他大概正在視頻中聽女兒說上幼稚園時的種種吧;啪噠啪噠,又或他太太在追問他晚餐的內容;啪噠啪噠,午餐的鰻魚飯,他應該也帶家人吃過吧;啪噠啪噠……如月倒了一點山椒粉在掌心,舔了一口,好麻。

麻得難受,她慌忙打開冰淇淋,吞一小口,冰淇淋在舌上溶化,巧克力的甜注滿口腔。只是原來麻痺比甘甜強頑,甜美太短暫,而且此時的甜寒氣入骨,著實不是麻痺的解藥。


如月拾起地上的山椒粉,打開來嗅了嗅,山椒的香氣已有點薄弱了,大概是因為已過了嘗味期限。她回頭看著那盤混了鮮奶油的巧克力,木納地凝視著它反照著亮光的波紋,無意識地於巧克力上灑了一層山椒粉,攪拌後挖了一把巧克力放在嘴裡,甘甜過後一陣麻痺。這盤巧克力,她為自己而做。


山椒巧克力

材料:

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

做法:

  1. 把鮮奶油倒在耐熱盤子裡,用開水座熱;
  2. 黑巧克力切成細塊放進耐熱盤子裡,煮一鍋熱水,把盤子放進去,輕攪拌巧克力,直到它完全溶化;
  3. 蜜糖加進鮮奶油裡,攪拌至混合;
  4. 將(3)倒進(2)裡,並加入山椒粉,攪拌;
  5. 把(4)倒進方形器皿裡,把器皿輕輕於桌上敲數下,讓巧克力表面變平整;
  6. 冷藏兩小時左右至凝固;
  7. 切成小塊,並灑上巧克力粉。完成。

是日器物:松德硝子的「Katachi」玻璃杯


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

Ingredients:

200g of dark chocolate, 100ml of whipping cream, 15ml of honey, 1g of Japanese pepper powder, some chocolate powder

Steps:

  1. Pour whipping cream into a heat-resistant container and bring it to simmer.
  2. 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.
  3. Add honey to whipping cream, stir until well-mixed
  4. Pour (3) into (2); add Japanese pepper powder and stir.
  5. Pour (4) into a rectangular container. Gently knock the container against the table to flatten the chocolate.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.
  7. Cut into small piece, sprinkle chocolate powder and it’s done.

Container of the day: Katachi glass by Shotoku Glass