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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pon-Gashi

ポン菓子
Pon-Gashi stall
The advantages to living in the Japanese countryside, as opposed to Japanese towns or cities, are too numerous to list, yet a common complaint about the countryside, often heard from women who live in the cities, is that it is inconvenient.

I'm not exactly sure what convenience is.... I know there are lots of stores in Japan that sell it... but it seems to be connected with shopping.

True enough, shops are few and far between around here, but why do you need shops when much of what you need can be had from your neighbors?

Last night one neighbor gave us a huge junk of wild boar meat. 2 days ago another neighbor gave us half a dozen fish. Everyone grows rice and vegetables, most make their own pickles, across the river is a small family soy sauce brewery, etc. etc.

Now a new product has been added to our local product list, Pon-Gashi.

Pon-Gashi translates as "popped snacks", anyone who grew up with Rice Krispies, Sugar Puffs, etc will know what they are.

Mr. Motoyama, a friend and neighbor who has a constant stream of money-making ideas, has bought a Pon-Gashi machine and on weekends sells the products from his front yard.

About half the customers are people driving by who stop in for some of the Pon-Gashi made with Mr. Motoyama's own rice, but the other half are local people who bring their own grain and have him pop it for them.

filling the machine

We took some of our organic rice and organic whole wheat to find out how it worked. First the grain is place in a rotating drum. It is sealed tightly and then heated by a gas burner for about ten or fifteen minutes until the pressure is right.

PON!

Then with a fearful bang and a cloud of smoke the drum is opened and a pile of puffed grain, of a mass many times larger than the drum, explodes into the waiting wire basket.

rice krispies and sugar puffs

So, now we have a couple of kilos of organic whole grain Rice Krispies and Sugar Puffs, at a fraction of the cost if bought from a store.

Who needs convenience?



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