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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

January , 2024

The New Year.

The thing that comes first to my mind is omochi (rice cakes).
I love omochi and want to eat as much as I can, and would like to try various ways of eating them if
my stomach lets me.
As long as I have omochi, I feel that I don’t need anything else. Even the eggs that I normally take
every day do not exist in my mind. My routine of eating protein and doing exercise is erased off
when omochi is around.
However, I only eat them in the New Year. It seems to be imprinted in my brain that they are for the
New Year, and when the period is over, it goes away in the distance. I can say ‘see you next year’
to it.
But I do feel like eating it sometimes, and I start to look forward to the New Year.

The smooth texture of omochi, the way it becomes really tasty after chewing, and the many ways
of eating is the charm. It can be eaten as meals or as snacks.
The ways I like eating them differs from time to time, and there is a kind of boom within me.
Currently, I love eating them with honey and kinako (roasted soy bean flour), cutting them up into
bite-size chunks, enjoying each taste to the full.
Omochi can be toasted or boiled and I definitely like boiled mochi, because though I like the aroma
when toasted, I can’t stand the way it sticks to your teeth. Boiled mochi becomes fluffy and tastes
really mild.
These days, I make boiled mochi by using the microwave oven. This works really well as it makes
the mochi so soft and fluffy. You don’t need to worry about washing up the sticky pan if you use the
microwave oven.

How to make omochi soft with a microwave oven:
Put the mochi in a plate in the right size and pour water until the mochi is covered. Heat the
microwave oven for 1 to 1 and a half minutes.
I like watching the oven while the mochi rises, and I quickly stop the oven on the moment when it
gets soft. Then, I drain the water and pour honey and then lots of kinako over it. When the mochi is
fluffy enough, cut them into small chunks with your chopsticks. They taste even better when they
are cut smaller, as lots of kinako are sprinkled on them. This is how you can make really tasty
omochi. I can eat them endlessly.

Next to that, I like eating them as  Isobemaki.
The way of boiling using the microwave oven is the same but once it’s spoiled, you dip the omochi
into a plate with soy sauce and shichimi togarashi (seven spice chili pepper), and wrap it with dried
seaweed. You might have noticed that I do not add sugar or mirin, as I like eating it with hot and
spicy pepper wrapped in Krispy seaweed. I always roast the seaweed whether it’s fresh or not.
Then you can enjoy the roasty smell of the seaweed and can eat it easy as the seaweed gets
cracked into small pieces. This is so delicious and I can eat this endlessly too.
Omochi with kinako is a snack, and Isobeyaki is a meal. I can eat both of them even when I’m not
so hungry.

The good point about omochi is that they also filling.
When I eat it I feel like being active for the whole day. Somewhere in my subconscious mind, I feel
the need to move around and digest the energy I took in. So I end up doing the cycle of practicing
my violin so hard, go jogging and swimming for a long time, and practice again even in the New
Year. I feel that the fresh new year has started and want to do my best in the days to come.
As I am no longer young as before, I do have my limits in doing my best. I do have ups and downs
in my mental and physical energy, and sometimes feel like doing nothing, feeling tired or absent
minded. Even on one of those days, I feel like moving again to digest when I eat omochi, so it
could be quite useful.

I forgot to mention that I also like putting omochi into my Ozouni (rice cake soup).
This is definitely a meal and as I like to eat the omochi last, soaked in the delicious soup, I eat up the vegetables

Other ways I like eating omochi is for example, putting small cut up omochi on top of pizzas, or
taking them with natto, or putting them into gratin dishes which tastes so good.

January is the time when I put my hands together at my dining table, feeling so grateful to the fact
that I can enjoy my favourite omochi.