Seasonal Wild Grasses and Organic Cuisine in A Folk House with A Red Tile Roof
post : 2014.11.08 16:00
If you go through a narrow alley in Okinawa City, in an inconspicuous red tiled folk house there is “Yaso (wild grass) Cafe Yamacha”.
Inside the shop there are items made by creators in Okinawa and it is all so Japanese seating so those with small children can also relax.
There is bread that is slowly cooked in a stone oven, local produced vegetables and seasonal grasses which are used to make delicious food that is also good for body.
Five years ago the Kato Family, the owners, moved into this folk house.
A traveler who would come to see from time who came see them from time to time saw some bidens in their backyard and told them “You can eat that flower” and that is what started their interest in wild grasses. From that they took notice that maybe they could eat other wild grasses.
After that they bought some illustrated encyclopedias on wild grasses in Okinawa in a used bookstore and looked up the grasses in the backyard and what effects they had, and asked a knowledgeable older lady in the neighborhood to confirm it for them.
“Take bidens for example they make antioxidants and can help in preventing diabetes and arteriosclerosis. When people got sick long ago instead of taking medicine they picked and ate wild grasses. They knew what grass has what effects.”
At first they picked the wild grasses for the family to use, but they wanted to let more people to know about this wonderful culture that was good for the body so 2 years ago they decided to open this store.
They are not raising wild grasses, they are just picking the grasses that are growing by themselves. They don’t give water or anything, it is neglectful agriculture.
When an order is receive they go out to the backyard, pick that grass and start cooking. Right now, there are over 50 types of wild grasses in their backyard, but throughout the year there is over 100 types.
There are a lot of families with children, so to make dishes like pizza and pasta that are easier for children to eat they don’t put the wild grass on top as is, but they arrange them into a paste or some other form.
The sauce on the chicken for “today’s plate” is made from a mixing of 5 wild grasses: bidens, Java tea, Peucedanum japonicum, Oriental false hawksbeard and Japanese mugwort.
The wild grass Java tea in Okinawa is said to be effective for kidney inflammation, high blood pressure and glycosuria.
When you hold it in you mouth it is slightly bitter, but it becomes an accent like potherbs.
“What is the border between weeds, wild grasses and vegetables? If you become aware that you can eat what you thought was a weed, then it becomes a wild grass. And what you buy in your supermarket aren’t the only vegetables. If you don’t go out shopping there are many things around you that you can eat that are good for your body.”
The wild grass cuisine at Yamacha might be a small hint of something you can put in your everyday life.
Yaso Cafe Yamacha
1-21-12 Kubota, Okinawa-shi
Okinawa Clip Photowriter Sandy