A 300-year-old confectionary company has been rocked by scandals involving their falsification of production dates on their sweet bean jam products. I've eaten a very few of these treats, usually brought back from vacation trips by students at both Nova and my current school; I'm not sure if I've eaten any by this particular firm, but it's a possibility.
I don't eat them often, though. Because while it's rare for me to find a Japanese food I don't like, this is one of them. It's not that sweet bean jam is so terrible. It's just that its stickiness, its mild sweetness and curdlike consistency combine to produce in me a lack of interest.
Here I'm known as the gaijin who can eat everything. The more exotic, the less likely everyone thinks it is a foreigner can stomach it, the more I want to try it. And the more I usually like it. I've eaten soup made from fish heads, bones and skin... a feat that had an entire customer base of a sushi restaurant gaping at me with amazement and declaring, "You are Japanese!"
That's a constant refrain accompanying my culinary stunts of derring do. "You are Japanese!" Using hashi (chopsticks), "You are Japanese!" Eating natto (sticky bean stuff) and declaring it delicious, "You are Japanese!"
Raw fish? Japanese. Raw horse? Japanese. McDonald's? Japanese.
And yet I haven't quite grasped the concept of traditional Japanese sweets. To me, they seem less like desserts (which should be a reward) than something you have to endure (almost like punishments for having finished your meal!). Japanese chocolate, on the other hand, comes in a mighty array of wonderfully delicious configurations. This place is like Willy Wonka's utopian dream. Because the Japanese aren't as into sugar as say, Americans, chocolate here tends to have a truer chocolately taste, unhindered by excessive sweetness. You can savor the roast cocoa bean essence.
But sweet bean jam? What's the point of that when your country produces Melty Kiss?