I traveled to Kyoto last week to check out its beautiful temples and delectable foods. Among the people I met was Michael Baxter, an American expat who has lived in Japan for a good 15 years. Kyoto has been his home for over a decade and he is the man behind Kyotofoodie.com, a terrific site on the foodways of Kyoto, once the ancient capital of Japan.
Michael and I first met over a dinner of handmade udon. He then invited me to his home the next evening for sukiyaki to showcase the best of Kyoto’s wealth of vegetables and tofu. Kyoto is famous for its special seasonal vegetables and multicourse meals based on tofu. Really.
He surprised me with a bounty of wonderful goodies – Japanese people are nuts for seasonality. In fact, Masa Fujiwara, a cultural and culinary tour guide in Kyoto, explained to me that it’s (1) important to enjoy foods at their seasonal peak but (2) it’s also good to have things ahead of their seasons so as to prepare one’s body for the seasonal changes ahead.