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New Kasugai Gummy candy flavor

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Steven Stern Jul 10, 2000 10:39 PM

Well...new to me at least, the prize of my latest Japanese marketing trip.

Prune!!!

If I may quote the text on the package: "Prunes, which have long been eaten in the West as a health-enhancing fruit, are now available in the form of delicious gummy candies. Enjoy the taste of Kasugai Prune Gummy Candies, which retain the aroma and flavor of fresh prunes."

Which pretty much sums it up. These babies taste exactly, and I mean exactly, like prunes. That is or isn't a good thing, depending on your own predilictions, but must be acknowledged as a bold and impressive bit of candy-flavoring.

  1. m
    Maria Eng Jul 11, 2000 12:19 AM

    So, at which market did you find them? BTW, my favorite Japanese candy is Ume-flavored (sour plum) chewing gum but I wish they'd find a way to make the flavor last longer. Bravo to the Japanese flavor-fragrance technicians!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Maria Eng
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      Steven Stern Jul 12, 2000 08:42 PM

      I got my prune gummies at Sunrise Mart in the East Village, on the 2nd floor above St. Mark's Books. It's the store of choice for the trust-funded Japanese hipsters who have moved into the neighborhood in great, well-dressed droves. Food aside, it's a great place to go for trend-spotting: I saw my first little silver scooter there, about -a year- before they were everywhere in the city.

      I stopped in on the way home from work to pick up a package of barbecued eel, which for my money, is -the- convenience food for people who work too much: keep it in the freezer, thaw under hot water, pop it under the broiler, put on rice, open a beer, and there's dinner.

      Which leads me to my question. I'm looking for a Japanese cookbook that accurately represents what time-pressed home cooks really do, pre-fab shortcuts and all. Every book I've seen here is mostly home renditions of standard restaurant dishes, sushi and tempura and such, but when I go to the market, I see all this sliced prepared fish and jars of roe and bottles of sauces, and I have no idea what to do with it.

      Anybody have a suggestion? Seems like there must be something printed in Japan for English-speaking expats, or something like that.

      1. re: Steven Stern
        m
        Maria Eng Jul 13, 2000 01:02 AM

        Add some pickles to that dinner and I'm coming over!
        Now in the height of Summer eel's the seasonal food of choice for Japanese. BTW, You may be able to snag some on sale since it's the season. The jars and packages won't be so mysterious with these two books - The Folk Art of Japanese Country Cooking by Gakku Homma (exactly the way I like to cook at home, but no shortcuts) and New Salads by Shinko Shimizu with Michio Kushi. If you like to see Japanese cookbooks for Japanese, browse at Kinokuniya in 49th St. Many beginner books are so well-illustrated you hardly need to read them. As for convenience foods, I guess the number-one fast dinner in Japan is still curry, made with House or SB or some other brand curry base. It tastes like a good yellow Chinese curry. Most packages give English instructions and it's really decent with shrimp and lots of carrot, potato and green beans thrown in. I cut the ratio of base to ingredients by about 1/3 from their suggestion to lighten it up a bit. They keep indefinitely in the freezer. P.S - nextime you visit why not just ask folks at the store about this and that and how they like to eat it? I'm sure they'd be very pleased to help any customer who sincerely appreciates Japanese food.

        1. re: Maria Eng
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          Beth Jul 13, 2000 10:44 AM

          The last part of Maria's post really struck a chord with me. Whenever I'm in an ethnic grocery and see an ingredient I'm not familiar with, I always ask, "What do you do with this?"

          I have learned more about ethnic food by asking that question than through any other method. I even sometimes ask about ingredients that I know something about, and the answers often surprise me. Even people with hesitant (or no) English have shown me things that I never would have discovered on my own. At a Thai grocery in Yonkers (near Cross County shopping center, if anyone's interested), I bought fish sauce and asked that question, and the man I asked walked over to an unripe mango (he was insistent that it be unripe, pointing to a ripe one and shaking his head), then pointed to my fish sauce and made a shaking motion. Of course I bought the mango, too. :) (Warning: unripe fruit with fish sauce is DEFINITELY an acquired taste.)

          I've had many great experiences at that store, such as the time I was buying ingredients for a soup and person ringing up my stuff looked at what I was buying, named the dish I was making and recommended that I add some galingale/galanga/thai ginger. (The cookbook I was using substituted regular ginger, presumably because galingale is difficult to find.)

          Moral: never be afraid to ask! The worst that can happen is that the person doesn't understand or doesn't tell you anything useful.

          1. re: Maria Eng
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            Steven Stern Jul 13, 2000 06:22 PM

            Many thanks, Maria. I took a look at the Homma book on Amazon, and it looks amazing; I'll definitely be ordering it. "New Salads" seems to be out of print, but I'll try to track it down. And yeah, I should ask more questions: I'm usually rendered speechless in wonder over all the pretty packaging.

            1. re: Steven Stern
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              Maria Eng Jul 13, 2000 11:58 PM

              Glad to have been some help.

          2. re: Steven Stern
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            Caitlin Jul 13, 2000 06:07 PM

            Do you happen to know if Kasugai is the company that makes the muscat gummies? Or, regardless, have you noticed the muscat gummies at Sunrise? They come in a sack (light green with picture of green grapes, natch) and are individually wrapped. I hate "grape" flavored anything, and also dislike grape jelly and grape juice, Concord or white, but muscat gummies are a whole different animal, and I adore them. Now I'm thinking it might well be a different company, because there's a disconnect between the perfectly sensical text you quoted from the prune gummy package and the hlariously nonsensical description on the muscat gummy bag comparing them to a lovely woman or something like that. (I actually saw this quoted in a book on foreign signs, packages, etc. that mangle English in humorous ways.)

            1. re: Caitlin
              s
              Steven Stern Jul 13, 2000 06:26 PM

              Yup, the Muscat Gummies are the same brand, and yup, they're great. Kasugai must have hired a new copywriter, someone either more fluent or less poetic.

              The lychee-flavored ones are good, too.

              1. re: Steven Stern
                c
                Caitlin Jul 13, 2000 08:03 PM

                Thanks. Haven't seen the lychee flavored ones, but my boyfriend would definitely like that.

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