Looking back, I realize there were so many things that I disliked eating when I was a child. One of my arch enemies was myoga, the flower buds of Japanese ginger that appeared regularly at the dinner table in the summer and did not go away until October.
Just like green onions, myoga was served as a garnish in miso soup, cold tofu, and other delicious things that, to a child’s tongue, tasted far better without this cursed topping. These terrible condiments are called yakumi, which means medicinal garnish, and my dream was to move to a world where they served food without them.
The other problem with myoga was that it was also the motif of my family’s crest. When I discovered this fact, I was so disappointed that I wasn’t born into a family with beautiful flower crests like Wisteria or Paulownia. I mean, why a lowly vegetable?
Years have passed and now a cold tofu without yakumi would be a let-down at the dinner table. And I even rather like the fact that a hardy shade-loving Zingiber is the motif of my family’s crest.