Monday, January 12, 2009

The Seven Herbs of Spring

Yet another way to insure a healthy and evil-free New Year is to eat nanakusa, the seven herbs of spring. I usually forget about this. If I don't happen to be in the supermarket on January seven, I just forget.

Once ten years ago someone sent me a package of the seven herbs. It was very kind, but there was no letter or return address, so I had no idea who sent them or what they were exactly. I ate them anyways. I don't know about health, I was just happy I didn't croak.

This year, I was at the local supermarket on the special day. I even splurged and bought the fancy set of herbs, the non-dry kind. Only four bucks!

Every one of the herbs/grasses/veggies offers its own unique health benefits. I won't tell you how long (at least two hours) it took me to match real-life herb to fancy drawn picture.

Here are the detailed instructions that came with the herbs. Ignore the frog he's just there for color.

They all look quite different from one another. When I opened the package, however, it all looked pretty much like the same plant. Well, except for those bottom two. I identified them right away.

Suzuna, turnip! The paper says it makes the environment in your intestines good. I bet it does.

And then there was suzushiro, daikon radish. He's a little bugger, about the size of my pinky. And believe it or not he does exactly the same thing as turnip up there. So much for being unique.

Then things got terribly difficult. I THINK these are correct. Much time was spent on Google and consulting with my son who just wanted to play his guitar and didn't care one lick about the shape of a leaf or the length of a stem.

This should be seri, water dropwort. If you want to rid your body of poisons, improve your appetite and help your rheumatism. Here's the guy for you.

Next we have what just might be nazuna, shepherds purse. Nazuna helps your blood, improves your blood pressure and stuff like that.

Okay, here comes hotokenoza, nipplewort. (No, I'm not making these up as I go along.) Eating this will build you a better body.

Also had a little hakobera, chickweed. Oh boy! While looking at what this grass does I found that it is mostly used as a topical skin remedy, should probably not be taken internally, and contains nitrate. Great. Now I find this out.

And finally the fuzzy leafed gogyou, cudweed. Another appetizing name. This little fella stops coughing, clears mucous and works as a diuretic.

Remember I'm not sure the pictures match the actual description. In the end it doesn't matter because you wash all the grasses, lightly boil them, chop them to bits and then stew them in a big pot of rice gruel. Add a touch of salt for taste and voila! You have nanakusa okayu.

Of course, I was so excited I forgot to take a picture of the actual finished product so instead I'll present you with this.

Soda, the little cat with the ginormous head.