August 11, 2010
I am not a gardener.
I have no interest in physical labour, no patience for watching stuff grow and I’m always too busy for watering.
But after spending one year looking at a pack of Japanese Shiso leaf seeds I got from Yoko (a pure shisoholic) I had to cave in and try it out based on two reasons;
1) I wanted my balcony to look blossoming and impressive.
2) I really really want to be able to eat natto. Yes, natto – the infamously stinking, rotting Japanese favourite that makes most Westerners barf and immediately look for the nearest exit. But it’s super healthy and an essential part of the Japanese kitchen, and supposedly shiso seeds should be the happy helper here – adding a necessary ease to the natto taste and smell. At least that’s what Yoko is trying to tell me.
Shiso is a happy little food herb plant with a mixed taste somehow between basil and mint. Spicy but in a toothpaste kinda way. When you order a plate of sashimi, the beautiful green leaves separating the raw fish pieces is shiso.
So I started out on July 11th 2010 – a sunny day and perfect for being wholesome and green in the balcony gardens.
The seed pack is in Japanese, and despite spending approx 100.000 Danish kroner/$18,000 in Japan on books and one year of language school I still can’t make out much of anything that damn pack says.
“Ooba” means Big Leaf though. The rest is a blur.
Hmm… so much for daily Kanji tests– you’ll forget them all the very minute you leave Narita airport–unless you’ve scored a relationship with a Japanese girl (which a surprisingly large number of my male classmates did).
Anyway, I figured I’d just give it a shot, plant the seedos and water them regularly (as in when I suddenly remember I have a balcony which doesn’t happen too often).
Day 1: Take off
Day 7: Oh my god!! It’s alive!! I’m a garden god!
Day 14: Growing neatly – they’re actually super cute!
Day 18: After a couple of days featuring hardcore summer showers, it’s suddenly going really fast.
Day 23: Green explosion!
Day 25: Kaboom! Ready for a test snack!
By now I had waited long enough – the leaves looked like the ones on the seed pack so I thought I’d give it a go with some natto.
Freshly cooked Japanese white rice with imported Japanese natto and, ta-da! Homegrown shiso leaves.
I need some side dishes too… Ok, here we go…
…… ugh… bleh…… phew, nope. Doesn’t help. Despite spending three weeks growing an aid for eating natto, it’s still natto. And my apartment still smells like old, unwashed bag lady– a pungent, heavy stench of rotting skin and armpit dirt residue. I can not eat this.
But, well… my balcony looks amazing.
Any ideas for what I can use the shiso for, since I’ve now thrown out all my leftover natto packs? Ideas greatly appreciated.