From Leo Lewis in Tokyo
AS TOKYO swelters through record high temperatures, Japanese are being advised to cool down with a nice tub of raw horse-flesh ice-cream.
For those averse to red meat, there is always prawn or clam ice-cream. Vegetarians can try soybean and kelp ice-cream, or perhaps a cornet of strawberry and spinach.
Recent years of cool summers have been hard on ice-cream makers. But as temperatures reached 39.5C (103F) in central Tokyo on Tuesday, the Japan Ice-Cream Association, backed by the Home Affairs Ministry, counter-attacked. It has set up a giant summer-long trade fair in central Tokyo called Ice-Cream City, where confectioners from aim to persuade Japanese that there is more to their output than classics such as raspberry ripple.
The campaign has been bolstered by a report from the ministry showing that while Japanese spent more than £1.5 billion on ice-cream and sorbets last year, they ranked only nineteenth in the world in individual consumption.
In its mission to generate as wide an appeal as possible, Ice-Cream City is not restricting its target market to those with a sweet tooth. Basashi vanilla, for example, draws on a Fukushima region speciality and includes chunks of horse-flesh sushi. Yagi no aisu is ice-cream made with goat’s milk and goat meat, and gyu tan is cow-tongue sorbet. In the adjoining freezer, customers are offered ice-cream flavoured with real octopus, abalone, oysters, shrimp, crab and whale. The most expensive, selling for about £5 for a small tub, are shark’s fin and sea- urchin roe ice-cream.
On the vegetable front there are garlic, potato and lettuce, cactus and seaweed ice-creams. The more adventurous may enjoy the appeal of horseradish flavour, or even goya — a notoriously bitter type of cucumber found in the southern Japanese islands.
“The first hurdle is that people associate ice-cream with dessert. That’s actually a 20th-century thing. Before then, people had been making savoury ices for centuries in England, from parsley to cucumber to parmesan to spinach.
“Five or six years ago we put a crab ice-cream on the menu and you could see the barriers come up because they expected it to taste sweet. But if you fed them the same thing and called it a frozen crab bisque, they had no problem.” The heat's on and the Japanese can cool off with horse-flesh ice-cream - World - Times Online