The best of konbini bread: Melon/meron pan
This week I had originally planned to write about anpan [あんパン], possibly THE most famous type of bread or pan [パン] you can buy at konbini [コンビニ], but as fate (or my stomach), would have it, I have developed a slight obsession with melon/meron pan [メロンパン] and decided to focus on it instead. There was also the fact that I discovered a new type at Family Mart that I just HAD to try.
Next week, I promise you though, I will write about anpan!
Now before I state my findings and indeed, my preference, let me first give you a brief outline of what melon/meron pan actually is.
First and foremost it’s a type of kashipan [菓子パン] or sweet bread and is considered to be nearly on par with anpan. It’s made from dough, which is then covered in a thin layer of crispy cookie dough that is wonderfully crumbly and sugary. The name, melon/meron pan is kind of misleading because it has absolutely nothing to do with flavour. To be honest, it was this confusion was the reason I didn’t actually try one for years. Yes, years. I detest melon and anything melon flavoured or even scented, so as much as I wanted to try one, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Of course, I found out later that melon/meron pan is named because of its resemblance to the skin of a melon.
Recently, some bakeries have indeed started adding melon flavouring, but thank God konbini have stayed true to the original recipe. You can, however, find some versions with custard or cream filling and even ones dotted with chocolate chips, but these are generally brands like Yamazaki or Pasco, not the konbini brand ones.
I first started eating melon/meron pan as a dinner substitute when I was pressed for time teaching at eikaiwa [英会話] and didn’t have any breaks. The closest konbini was a Family Mart and their melon/meron pan was perfect, because it was huge (good for when I was hungry), crunchy and crispy like it should be, and had clearly visible clumps of sugar sprinkled on top for that essential hit when teaching kids. I saw it more as a snack and at the time, I didn’t think the Family Mart version was something I would like to eat for breakfast.
Instead, I headed to my old favourite, 7-Eleven, and gave their melon/meron pan a go. I found that it was soft, light and buttery, similar to a sweet croissant and for people who don’t want too much sugar for breakfast, possibly a better option. Unfortunately, it’s a little too greasy for my taste. Family Mart’s doesn’t leave any grease whatsoever and is more crumbly. If you’re looking for a breakfast option, rather than a snack or light meal, go for the 7-Eleven one.
I’ve since started eating the Family Mart one for breakfast alternating between it and anpan. I decided some mornings I just want a sugar fix and with black coffee from 7-Eleven, it makes my day. Yep, okay, so I need to get a life, but what can I say? Simple things make me happy.
A few months back I saw that the Family Mart butter version was advertising the fact that they used Normandy butter. That didn’t ring any bells for me and I didn’t bother pursuing what about that fact that made it important…
That was until the other day when I noticed a new advertisement on the pack: European fermented butter.
Everyone knows that the Japanese love their fermented foods (think natto) and the health benefits that go with them, so like every curious nerd, I decided to investigate. It seems that Normandy is the dairy capital of France, hence the importance of the butter from there. It also has a slightly tart taste due to the fermentation process that is used in its production. I’m not entirely sure that the two melon/meron pan I’ve eaten from there aren’t the same product, just with different marketing, but I have noticed they’ve become more popular. Some mornings I have to walk to another Family Mart just to try and find one on the shelves.
Whatever the case, this time Family Mart is the clear winner. Yes, I’m very sorry Mr. 7-Eleven, but I’ve found a new love.
But don’t just take my word for it, go and try one and let me know whether you agree.
Happy eating! 🙂