Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lotus Flowers

A pretty flower blog. Yo!

I visited a small indoor lotus pond a few weeks ago and took some pictures.

This is what I (vaguely) remember studying at university in my Buddhism class before I had ever seen a lotus bloom or tasted a lotus root in real life:

Let's see, the lotus flower is an important symbol for Buddhists. It germinates in the muck, grows tall through muddy water, and then flowers above the surface. This represents a person's spirit on its way to enlightenment. The colors are also symbolic with white representing mental purity; red, the original nature of the heart; blue (purple), triumph over the spirit and wisdom; and pink being associated with the Buddha himself. Even the root, when cut in cross section, is thought to show the dharma wheel. Oh yea, and also, you see the lotus flower repeatedly in Buddhist art, from the flower that the Buddha's holding to the seat on which he sits. There really is a lot more but let's look at the pretty pictures.

Here's the pond itself. While we have a large outdoor one near our house, this one has a better variety of blooms.


And this is what I've learned since coming to Japan:

When you go to the grocery store you can buy lotus root all year round and it looks something like this:

It is a root and tastes like a root, but as far as that goes, not bad. I mean it isn't like burdock root which is just nasty. But you just have to be sure to slice it thin and cook it well. And chew and chew.

It's tasty in a salad:

Or my favorite lotus root dish, where you take two thin pieces and smush a bit of meat in between (until it oozes out holes), flour it and deep fry it. Called a lotus root sandwich.


I also learned--but have yet to witness--that when lotus flowers bloom they make a strange popping noise. And if you are near a pond when they all start to open one after another, it can be a little unsettling. I so want to see this but it happens like predawn or something.


Hilary said...

Those photos are beautiful.. especially when clicked on to see the larger version. I had no idea that there was edible lotus root. It sure looks like an attractive salad ingredient. Lovely stuff!

Kappa no He said...

Thank you Hilary. I remember once I bought some in the States and sooo wanted to eat it but hadn't a clue how. And that was pre Internet so all I could do was watch it go bad.

plaidearthworm said...

Wow, gorgeous pics! Maybe I'm just feeling goofy today, but 'Popping Lotus' sounds like a great name for a band. ;)

Katarina-bakajo said...

Oh, they are so pretty!!! I wish we could've went to lotus gardens in Japan. Now that I have been there it is sooooooo boring being back in Vancouver.

Ello said...

Nice pictures! Lovely flowers. But lotus root is just not a favorite of mine! Burdock root doesn't sound good either. Let's talk about tasty Japanese treats again!

Kappa no He said...

Plaidearthworm, what a great idea! And much better than some of the names I hear these days.

Katarina, your trip looked and sounded so exciting. You went to places I haven't been to yet!

ello, ha ha, oh, one taste of burdock root will have you drooling for lotus root. It's nasty!

I should go take pictures of all the Japanese cakes and sweets. Now THAT would be a treat!

Obidasin said...

Oh, your pictures today are so lovely! Definitely cheered me up, I was in a pretty miserable mood just now since I'm awake at 4 AM to finish some work for class (hey, I wonder if there are any lotus blossoms around here? I could check out that sound-thing for you now =P).

Pictures of Japanese cakes and sweets? Especially after seeing how cute those strawberry puddings looked in an older post? YES PLEASE. Or maybe not--I doubt it would help my crusade to eat healthy!

Mary Witzl said...

I absolutely love lotus root (I have one in my kitchen right now that probably needs to be eaten). I like cooking it with dashi, shiitake, carrot, sugar and shoyu, then using it in chirashizushi, which my kids also like (sadly, they pick out the lotus root). It tastes good, but it's the texture I really love -- that wonderful snappiness it has. But I could not agree more with you about gobo! I HATE gobo! The very last month we were in Japan, I had something with gobo in it that actually tasted okay. I wondered if I was on the verge of a gobo breakthrough, but then by that time we were leaving Japan...

Kappa no He said...

Obidasin, oh yes, if you happen to run across a lotus blossom let me know if it pops. And waking up at four am will be a definite advantage.

I can't even go into most of the Japanese cake stores. It's torture, pure torture (the beauty, the calories and the prices!).

Mary, yay! A fellow gobo hater. I admit I do try to do the kinpira thing from time to time but no breakthrough for me...yet.

Chirashi! I think you've just decided dinner for us tonight.

MDK said...

Love your pics, Terri.
We're going to St. Louis,MO
this weekend. Batonical Gardens
is my favorite. They are
supposed to have the largest
Japanese Garden in the US.
I'll be sure to take plenty of
pictures. I lean towards
Buddhism and its philosophy for my life. So the meaning behind
the lotus is especially

Kappa no He said...

I didn't know that about the largest Japanese garden in the US being in St. Louis. I would love to see it. Have a great time!