Friday, September 12, 2008


Day fifty-three: Senpyō

The first time I ever drank matcha (whipped green tea) it was accompanied by one of these cigar-shaped little cookies. While visiting Kyoto, my mother and I had gone to the huge Daitokuji complex to see the famous dry garden at the Daisen-in subtemple. Since pondering rivers of gravel is thirsty work, we opted to take tea in Daisen-in's reception room. Next to each bowl of bright green foam the waitress placed a single senpyō. We had to talk each other out of asking for seconds.

The surface of senpyō is furred with a generous amount of powdered cinnamon, a spice that for some reason I haven't yet pinned down is strongly associated with Kyoto (a result of trips to and from the Asian mainland in the early days of Japanese Buddhism?). The core is a strip of crumbly white bean paste and the surrounding cookie is soft and fluffy on top, baked to a slightly glassy crisp on the bottom.

Happily, Daisen-in now sells small boxes of senpyō to go.

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