⟨ Food ⟩

The sweet or unsweet dessert

Soy milk pudding

Texts & Photography / 林琪香
Translation / Iris Heung

1.
夕夏把行李擱在近門口處,裡面只塞了幾件衣服、數雙鞋子以及一幅朋友送的小油畫,其他東西——書、唱片、一整套《Colors》雜誌、從英國搬回來的舊椅子、數十個自世界各地搜回來的杯盆,她珍而重之地從另一個家搬進來的東西,似乎都不再那麼重要了。連陽太她都可以放下,也就沒甚麼放不下的了。

夕夏打開冰箱,想倒杯冰麥茶。原本伏在地上瞪著圓眼看著她的七月立時蹦蹦跳跳的走過來,搖著尾巴吐著舌,以為夕夏會在冰箱取出甚麼分牠一點。但夕夏取出的是一個小杯子,裡面沒有七月的牛肉零嘴,只有味道淡薄的豆乳布甸。

夕夏放回杯子,看著冰箱裡的豆乳布甸。明知自己今天就要離開了,昨晚還做甚麼甜品呢?為甚麼她就非做甜品不可呢?

2.
陽太說,冰淇淋的話,當然是雲尼拿味啊。那天老人家的口味。夕夏調侃著說。她愛所有口味的冰淇淋,比利時巧克力、榛子果仁、混合草莓、海鹽焦糖⋯⋯除了雲尼拿的,她認定那是老人家的口味。

那年他們每天晚飯後,總會散步到家附近的便利店買甜點,雲尼拿味冰淇淋平淡而隱秘的香甜,在跟陽太一起很多年後,夕夏才領略出來。她曾經覺得陽太給予她一片新天地,見識盡世界平凡的美好,多年後又覺得,那不過就是一杯冰淇淋而已。再大的天地,都走不出一個小杯子,而且是塑膠造成的。

3.
夕夏不忍看到七月失望的表情。來,我們去散步吧。聽夕夏如此說,七月的雙眼又再閃亮起來,爽快地把頭套進頸圈去。

路上七月一直走在前面,夕夏看著牠左搖右擺的屁股,突然感到輕鬆自在。盛夏裡,這毛茸茸的生物邊走邊喘著氣,嘴角揚地的微笑如厚重雲層後的太陽。來到便利店,七月立時把身體都貼在瓷磚地上去,臉上的太陽被冷氣風吹得搖搖欲墜,悠哉地瞇著眼。炎夏裡的冷風,像溫水裡的蜜,如豆腐上的柴魚與醬油,一點點就在心裡綻放成花。

夕夏想起很久沒有跟陽太飯後散步去買甜品了,而其實他們已很久沒有一起用餐。不再散步之後,夕夏學會了做甜品。

夕夏給七月買了瓶水,久遺了便利店冰箱,她隨手拿了盒豆腐布甸,在公園給七月餵了水,撕開布甸蓋子,吃了一口,才驚覺那是杏仁豆腐。喚作杏仁豆腐,卻沒有杏仁與豆腐,她討厭那虛假的味道,正如她討厭虛有其名的感情關係。

4.
陽太說,你做的甜品總是不甜,甜品就該是甜的,如岩如石般堅實的甜,甜品是不健康的罪惡感釀成的美味。夕夏說,吃進肚裡的食物長成血肉皮膚,你吃甚麼就長成甚麼,她不想身體滿佈罪惡。

陽太終究還是會把不甜的甜品吃掉。在每個陽太說自己繁忙而夜歸的晚上,夕夏總是在翌日依靠點算冰箱甜點的數量來確定陽太有否歸來。她學會造各種的甜點,甘荀蛋糕、乳酪雪糕、蕃薯糖水、紅豆白玉、豆乳布甸⋯⋯各種被他說不甜的甜點。開始時她為解孤獨而做,後來卻發現孤獨很好,一個人的日子,佈滿著不甜的甜美,沒有比這更洽到好處的。

5.
回到家,夕夏替七月洗了腳,梳了毛,掉下的灰色長毛卷成一圈,在陽光下泛著銀光如同精緻的和菓子。

夕夏打開冰箱,沒用湯匙便站在冰箱前默默把其中一個豆乳布甸小口小口地啜進嘴裡。大豆的香氣,和盆糖的溫柔,如絹覆在她口腔裡,她覺得甚至不用加添糖醬。她需要真實的味道,她不需要甜膩。

一、二、三、她肚裡的那個是四,四個豆乳布甸,夕夏點算。她昨晚造了四個豆乳布甸,陽太昨晚沒回來過。夕夏不知道他今晚會否回來,只知道自己不會再回來了。

*

豆乳布甸

材料:
無糖豆乳400毫升、砂糖20克、魚膠粉 5 克、水 1 大匙、

黑糖漿:
黑糖 50 克、蜜糖 1 小匙、水 25 毫升

做法:
1. 將魚膠粉混水攪溶備用;
2. 把豆乳倒進鍋子裡,混入砂糖,慢火煮至溶化;
3. 拌進魚膠粉水;
4. 將煮好的豆乳倒進杯子裡,待涼後放進冰箱。
5. 黑糖與水放進鍋子裡,煮至黑糖溶化變濃稠;
6. 熄火拌進蜜糖,就成為黑糖醬。
7. 豆乳布甸凝固後,依個人口味加入黑糖漿。完成。

*
是日器物:小野哲平的茶杯

1.
In the suitcase that Yuka placed near the door lie some clothes, a few pairs of shoes, and a small oil on canvas painting given by a friend. Her books, records, the full collection of Colors magazine, vintage chairs from England, tens of cups and plates from around the world — things that she once passionately moved into her flat — are no longer important. If she can forget about Hatuta, there isn’t anything that she cannot let go.

Yuka opened the fridge and tried to pour herself a glass of iced barley tea. July, who was lying on the floor and looking at her with his big round eyes, came close to the fridge with a wagging tail. Walking with a spring in his steps, July was expecting Yuka to bring him some beef jerky from the fridge. To his disappointment, she only took out a small cup of mild soy milk pudding.

Yuka returned the cup to the fridge. Looking at the soy milk pudding lying in the fridge, she wondered why did she still make dessert last night knowing her own departure today. Why was it so necessary to prepare a dessert?

2.
Vanilla is Hatuta’s favorite ice cream favor. Yuka teased him saying it’s the taste of grannies. She likes any ice cream favor, Belgium chocolate, hazelnut, berry mix, sea salt and caramel, anything except vanilla. Therefore, she’s determined that vanilla is the taste of old people.

Back then, they took a stroll every night after dinner to get some dessert from a nearby convenient store. Yuka got to understand the subtle yet mystical sweetness of vanilla ice cream after spending many years with Hatuta. She once imagined Hatuta had opened up a new world for her to explore the beauty of the ordinary life; a few years passed, she found it as nothing more than a cup of ice cream. This world she was given was after all restricted to the small cup made of plastic.

3.
Looking at July’s disappointed face, she said, “Hey, let’s go for a walk.” July’s eyes sparkled, and rushed to put on the collar himself.

July was taking the lead the whole time. Seeing him wiggling his bottom, Yuka instantly felt comfortably at ease. This furry animal was catching its breath while running in the prime summer time. The smile on his face is as soothing as the sun behind a thick layer of cloud. July stuck his face to the tiles once they arrived at the convenient store; he closed his eyes and enjoyed the heat being swept away by the cold breeze from air conditioner. Cold breeze during summer time, honey in warm water, bonito flakes and soy sauce on tofu… only a tiny bit can already add so much color to the mood.

All of a sudden, Yuka remembered it’s been a long time since she last took a stroll for dessert after dinner. In fact, it’s been a long time since they last ate together. She simply learned to make her own dessert since taking a stroll is no longer a habit.

She bought a bottle of water for July. From the long-forgotten fridge, she also picked a pack of tofu pudding. The two of them settled in the park; she poured some water for July, and opened the pack of pudding for herself. Having a taste of her dessert, she was shocked to find out it was almond tofu that she’s got. She always hates the taste of almond tofu, which is entirely irrelevant to almond or tofu. The phony name of the dessert only reminds her of her despise for ungenuine relationship.

4.
Hatuta complained about the lack of sweetness in the dessert Yuka made. He expects dessert to be boldly sweet, an extremely sweet guilty pleasure of going against the principle of being healthy. Yuka told him, “You are what you eat,” any food you eat turns into part of your body, and she doesn’t want her body to be full of guilt.

Regardless of his complaints, Hatuta ate the dessert she made. The mornings after Hatuta was occupied by work at night, Yuka would count the number of desserts left in the fridge to know whether he had returned home the night before. She learned various dessert recipe. She made carrot cake, frozen yogurt, sweet potato soup, glutinous balls with red beans, soy milk pudding. Those were all desserts classified as ‘not sweet enough’. Making dessert was her way of easing loneliness to begin with; as time goes by, she began to appreciate being lonesome. The unsweet sweetness became the best company for her home alone days.
5.
Yuka washed July’s feet and brushed his hair when they got home. The long gray hair dropped from his body and formed a silvery ball that can be disguised as a piece of wagashi under sunlight.

Yuka opened the fridge and slowly ate her soy milk pudding without using a spoon. Her mouth was embraced by the fragrance of beans and the gentleness of Japanese sugar. She didn’t even have the need for syrup as the genuine taste was all she needed.

One, two, three. The fourth one was in her stomach. The four soy milk puddings she made were all there, she knew Hatuta wasn’t home the night before. She had no idea if he would be home tonight, but what she’s certain is that, she would never come back again.

*

Soy milk pudding

Ingredients:
400ml Unsweetened soy milk, 20g Sugar, 5g Gelatin, 1tbsp Water.

Brown sugar syrup:
50g Brown sugar, 1tsp Honey, 25ml Water.

Steps:
1. Mix gelatin well with water.
2. Pour soy milk and sugar in a sauce pan, simmer in low fire to melt the sugar.
3. Pour gelatin mixture into the saucepan, whisk gently.
4. Pour soy milk mixture into cups; chill before refrigerating.
5. Melt brown sugar and water in a saucepan, cook until a thick sauce is formed.
6. Turn off the fire, add in honey to make the brown sugar sauce.
7. Pour brown sugar sauce on the firm soy milk pudding to taste. Dessert is ready to serve.

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Utensil of the day: Teacup by Teppei Ono