Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chocolate Sushi

Despite the fact that Valentine's Day was quite awhile back, my husband received the fun assortment of chocolates above from a student yesterday. He also got a box of truffles from the same student, and while they were lovely and sophisticated, they weren't quite as photogenic as the whimsical item pictured above.

The characters in white in the center of the label say "sushi". The banner with gold letters to the left says "special" and the real "joke" of this item are the black characters on the right which read as "cho-ko" though when written as kanji (Chinese characters), the words don't mean "chocolate" (choco), but (apparently) "sake cup". Somehow, I figure there must be another meaning I'm missing that applies to sushi. Usually, the word chocolate is not written in kanji, but rather in katakana which is the Japanese syllabary for (mostly) foreign words so it's sort of a joke. Ha. Ha. OK, we foreigners don't find the same amusement in Japanese wordplay as the Japanese might, but it's still cute.

Click this picture to see detail.

The contents are mainly blocks of chocolate wrapped in plastic with pictures of various seafood items on them, though the small packet filled with green balls is full of super sweet white chocolate bits coated with shiny green candy. These balls might be meant to resemble fish roe, I imagine, though I'm not sure (particularly since roe is reddish in color). They do look suspiciously like the stuff my father used to bait his hooks with from time to time when he went fishing. However, the packet itself has a picture of gnarled wasabi roots and says "wasabi choco" so perhaps this was the best they could do to emulate small amounts of wasabi. The candy also has an odd aftertaste which may actually be wasabi flavoring. The packaging is very well done right down to having the omnipresent fake plastic "grass" that you see in sushi assortments and a real wood container (that smells quite nice).

The chocolate with a picture of a shell on it has some funny English on it. On the front, around the shell, it says:

"Scallop stands a sail and runs all over the seas."

On the back, it says:

"There was a dog to which the sea is crossed. The ear was pinched with the husks of HOTATE." 

"Hotate" apparently means "sail upright" in one of its incarnations, though it can also mean "pilgrim". Without Chinese characters, it's impossible to know but all the talk of the sea makes the sailing definition likely, yet somehow, renders the sentence it is a part of no more logical.


Anonymous said...

Hmm. It makes no sense to me. "The scallop stands a sail and runs all over the seas" sounds poetic. A picture came to my mind of Mr. Tess and me standing on a bridge in the Florida Keys: we watched a bluebottle (Portuguese Man of War) moving against the current to get to a place only it knew to travel toward. They are interesting "creatures" ( ) . They seem to make no sense, but apparently have a logic of their own.

badmoodmike said...

How cute is that! LOL!

I've seen fish roe at my local sushi joint that is about that lime-green color. They are, though, very very tiny...about the size of the tip of a medium ballpoint pen.

The interesting English phrases that I've seen and heard of from Japan are...interesting! I'm sure they make sense in the original least I hope.

Chris ( said...

Hotate means scallop, and husk is a bad translation for shell (kara - meaning shell in the context of crustaceans and husk in the context of grains) - so the dog got its ear pinched by a scallop. Part of an old tale perhaps?

lina said...

I don't have anything clever to say. Just I like that Chocolate Sushi so much that I think I'm going to look for them once in Japan :-)

Sherry said...

Hotate also mean scallop. Fully it is hotate-gai. 帆立貝 if your computer can read kanji. Frequently people leave the gai/kai part off though, at least around here. I think they are saying the dogs ear was pinched by a scallop shell. I could be wrong though, but that makes a bit more sense to me.

Shari said...

Thanks to all for the comments. I do have a computer that can read kanji. The main problem is that I didn't have kanji (the packaging only has "hotate" in roman letters and katakana) to check out and I had to guess among meanings when attempting a translation.

It makes sense that it means scallop, though the package only said "hotate" and not "hotate-gai". You can tell I don't eat seafood as I know little Japanese related to such things (aside from octopus, squid, and fish). I do know all the words for all the chicken parts though. ;-)

Cutetwirler said...

Haha! Chocolate sushi, whatever next!

On a similar subject, my (Japanese) boyfriend tried Mc Donald's hot apple pie for the first time the other day and swore that the cinnamon after taste was wasabi! Bless, he's not used to all these weird foreign tastes...

Marie said...

i just love these novel Japanese candy! I haven't seen this particular one but every time I go home, I look for these cute candy stuff to take home as souvenirs. Everyone back home loves them, too!
(We also usually enjoy the English descriptions on the packaging... :) )