10 June, Midori Yūma

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On June 10th, I Pop My Head Out of My Lair.

  There’s something yummy I’ve missed eating lately:
Mentai France, French bread filled with mentaiko cod roe, sold at a nearby bakery.
  As the stay-at-home period initiated by the government ended a little while ago, I put on a face mask, watch my distance from other people, and head out to the bakery.

  The area where I live is a fierce battleground for Mentai France bread.
  As the name suggests, Mentai France is a sinful treat, created in Fukuoka, where a special mentai paste is slathered across a French baguette. There may have been rumors of its recent listing as a new local specialty for the city.
  For some reason, the sharp, spicy mentai paste goes wonderfully well with crispy French bread.
  And it isn’t just Mentai France. These days, I see various types of bread with mentaiko; for example, croissants baked with mentai paste spread on the surface, sandwiches that have a thick omelet and mentai paste as the filling.
  All of these are good. Mentaiko is truly impressive.

  What I’m after today is the classic Mentai France.
  I’ll buy one fresh out of the oven and hurry home.

  It’s been getting hot these days, and vapor tends to build up inside your face mask. I go somewhere where I can be alone, pull down my mask, and take a deep breath. That’s when I suddenly become aware of the sense of nostalgia I get from the smell of the air.

  Anyway, I’m now at home, inserting a knife into my Mentai France bread. The mentai paste oozes down the crust, spilling from the spot where I’ve sliced the bread. Definitely dangerous.
  As tomatoes and cucumbers are now in season, I slice these as an accompaniment to the carbohydrates.
  I tend to match tomatoes and cucumbers to anything that looks like it’s high in calories.
  The Mentai France is still warm. I start by taking a bite out of a spot loaded with mentai paste.
  The bread crust is on the hard side, freshly baked, crispy and crunchy. But it’s surprisingly soft and chewy on the inside with a garlic butter flavor, the granular sensation intact in the mentai paste at just the right level of spiciness.
  Yet when you continue to chew, there’s a subtle sweetness that spreads wonderfully in your mouth.
  I’ve been abstaining so long that these flavors are shockingly fantastic. Did Mentai France always taste this good? I ask myself.
  Items that taste good are truly precious. They even kick away the various types of stress that we have.
  It’s an object of worship. Thank you, thank you, thank you. . . .

  I never realized before that we shouldn’t take it for granted that we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.
  I enjoyed my Mentai France with a lot of gratitude in every bite.

Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK

Midori Yūma
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture. Her Kakuriyo no yadomeshi (Kakuriyo: Bed & breakfast for spirits) series became a major success, later being adapted into manga, anime, and theater. Her other series include Asakusa oniyome nikki (Diary of a terrible wife in Asakusa), Meidēa tensei monogatari (Tales of reincarnation in Maydare) published by Fujimi L Bunko, and Torii no mukō wa shiranai sekai deshita (Beyond the torii gate was a brand new world) published by Gentosha Bunko, among others.




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