I know this might be a little early, especially since it’s still summer, but I couldn’t resist sneaking it in here as a heads-up that autumn is coming. Yes, that’s right. This week I jumped around with excitement just like a little kid when I saw 7-Eleven’s advertisement for start of oden [おでん] sales on September 1.
I’ll go into oden in detail in a future column, but for now, it’s a reminder that we need to take advantage of the best of this season’s products at konbini [コンビニ] one last time before they fade just like the memories of summer.
Nothing says summer more than the image of Hawaii with its tropical fruit like coconut, banana and pineapple and Family Mart has jumped on the bandwagon. The other day I stopped in for a bit of inspiration and discovered they’ve just launched a ‘Hawaiian Fair,’ campaign with a number of products both in thebread range (okay it’s cake really, but I’m more than okay with calling it ‘bread’ and being able to justify eating it for breakfast) and the dessert range.
The ‘bread’ is a white chocolate cream and coconut cake, while the dessert range has a choice of two options. The first of these is haupia, which is the Hawaiian word for a gelatinous coconut pudding that is of a similar consistency to Japanese youkan [羊羹], or the jellied dessert made from red bean paste, agar and sugar. It advertises itself as a combination of chocolate mousse with coconut and whipped cream. I became addicted to haupia when I visited Hawaii 11 years ago, so this dessert comes with a warning: LIMITED EDITION. To me, that means go crazy and eat as much of it as you can; that way you will be so thoroughly sick of it by the time it finally disappears that you won’t want to eat it ever again.
The second dessert features the increasingly popular health food, açaí and this one also advertises its use offresh banana. The açaí comes in the form of a mousse with additions like pineapple, kiwi fruit and crunchy granola bits. Yum! Again, you can justify eating this for one of your daily servings of fruit because it has so many different types. I’m scraping the barrel here, I know that. When I start saying fried potato and tomato sauce is equivalent to two servings of vegetables, then you’ll know there’s a problem.
Best of all, it doesn’t end there. In fact, it seems that there’s been an explosion of summer-inspired products at Family Mart. Just before posting this column I also discovered a chewy banana bread mochi thing (such an accurate description, *cough cough*). It’s in the bread section and looks like a gigantic glazed ring donut.
Since it has ‘banana,’ in the title, I’m willing to say it counts as fruit. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this one at every Family Mart store, so you may need to go from store-to- store, hunting it down as it were, if you really, really want to try it.
Next to the various breads there’s also a tiny section with assorted cookies, scones and bread that contain banana as the main ingredient. These aren’t part of the Hawaiian Fair campaign but certainly keep the ‘summer’ theme and the tropical mood going.
Of course, if you hunt around you will also find things like coconut milk with tapioca balls that are regular items in the shop so you can imagine that it’s summer all year long.
Yep, as summer draws to a close, take a moment to visit your local konbini, especially Family Mart to taste delicious fruit-inspired breads and desserts. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting on a white, sandy beach and I swear, you can almost feel that balmy breeze. Talk to you next week!