Sea Urchin …Cream Cheese? (Japan)

If you don’t know what uni (うに/海胆 sea innards/海栗 sea chestnut) is, I’ll fill you in on a dirty secret- it’s not the roe of sea urchin, per se. Rather, it’s what secretes the roe.

Not hungry anymore?

I used to think uni tasted like how a durian smells, but I’ve grown out of that association, too. What do you reckon?

No matter how one feels about uni, what I believe to be one of many cool aspects of Japan is the frequent presence of food fairs somewhere on the upper levels of department stores. Those top floors are usually reserved for limited time events, say, jewelry or art festivals, a display of local shamisen, or a collection of typical foods from a certain region/city of Japan.

During my last visit to Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu — mind you, this was a few years ago — I decided to take a chance by popping in various department stores, hoping that a food fest would be occurring. Sure enough, there was a showcase for specialties from relatively nearby Kumamoto prefecture.

Whereas there’s always a nuanced selection at these events – in this case, watermelon sugar and horse stood out – one item stood out a bit more than the rest:

fukuoka-kumamoto-food-fair-uni-sea-urchin-cream-cheeseUni cream cheese, produced in Amakusa city, well-known for its sea urchin harvest. Quite honest to the description – in Japanese, it says “Amakusa uni kaiseki (a quick bite of Amakusa uni before a having tea)” on the right, and “cream cheese” on the left.

In spite of my willingness to try nearly anything once, uni was not a like-at-first-bite for me, way back when. I’ve since jumped on the bandwagon, and in all fairness, I’d spread a bagel or baguette with this stuff any day.

The 26th Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Starts This July

From July 15th until November 20th, 2021, if you’re raring to travel abroad but your desired countries are still closed due to COVID-19, perhaps you will want to check out The 26th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  To attend, you will need to have both admission to Epcot, as well as reserve a place in the Disney Park Pass system.

Marketplaces such as Greece, Germany, Hawaii, and Islands of the Caribbean will be present, showing off food and drink commonly found in those parts of the world.  Wine and beer aficionados will also have their shops at which to indulge in buying souvenirs.

Due to the pandemic, the Festival will be taking place in a somewhat modified format.  For instance, due to frequent overcrowding at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, in order to properly maintain social distancing among Festival attendees, Epcot will instead host local musical acts spread throughout the day.  Also, the number of global marketplaces will only be twenty, as opposed to thirty before the pandemic.

Epcot is known for its futuristic attractions as well as its permanent country pavilions, with Morocco, Japan, and the United Kingdom among the more popularly visited ones.

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