It’s a popular food in Hachinohe City, but is it as good as its popularity warrants?
In the era of the pandemic, we have all become accustomed to a scenario where a readily available product is usually in short supply and stores place limits on how much a person can buy. Is it because of supply and distribution issues, panic buying, scalpersor some viral social media post or video making more people than usual want it, we barely blink an eye these days and just hope the madness ends soon.
We don’t expect anything weird to have purchase limits on it, for example “crackers”. What is it anyway? Our own reporter in Japanese Mr. Sato happened to meet them at 7-Eleven in Aomori which had a “one per family” limit. Why? For what?
On his three-day, two-day trip to Hachinohe City on the northeast coast of Aomori, Mr. Sato, as usual, stopped by the corner grocery store just outside his hotel to see if they were selling anything special to Aomori.
At first, he didn’t really see anything other than 7-Elevens in his hometown of Tokyo. They had some rice balls and benthos with local ingredients but that’s about it. At least until he noticed huge bags of big senbei in the chilled bento section!
They were “Nanbu Senbei”, which are large, round wheat crackers popular in the Hachinohe region and Iwate Prefecture. In this 7-Eleven they sold “Regular”, “Light Sesame”, “Sesame” …
Flavors “beans”, “sugar” and “wild sesame”.
These Nambu Senbei are made by a cracker company with a long tradition Oyamada Senbei-tenwhich is based in the nearby town of Sannohe.
But while these piqued Mr. Sato’s interest, there was something above them that really caught his attention: a sign that reads, “For crackers, please limit your purchase to one per family.”
“What?!” Mr. Sato mumbled. “Cracker skins?! I’ve heard of bread crusts, of course, but do crackers even have a crust?
Mr. Sato asked a local and apparently the skins are the scraps left after cutting the Nambu Senbei into circles. Oyamada Senbei-ten crackers are very popular; some people even go to Sannohe just to buy them.
This is what they look like up close. They almost looked like dried sweet potato chips or dried calamari. They cost Mr. Sato 290 yen ($2.07).
They have pieces of crackers surprisingly short shelf life. Mr. Sato bought his Nov. 5 but put it up for expiration on Nov. 9. He would have to eat them in four days, but it was not much of a challenge for the gourmet Mr. Sato.
When Mr. Sato poured them onto the plate, they looked even more like sweet potato chips.
Mr. Sato picked one up to try and took a bite. The texture was like eating very strong mochi. It felt very hard in his mouth, and the longer he chewed it, the better it tasted. It also had a very faint taste of salt and sesame, but Mr. Sato wouldn’t say he was delighted with it.
But when he finished one, he immediately reached for another, and when that one was over, he ate another. Before he could stop himself, he fell into a never-ending snacking loop!
This must be the secret to the popularity of Oyamada Senbei-ten crackers. Once you try even one bite of them, you will mysteriously become addicted. Just like dried squid, the more you eat, the more addictive it becomes!
These “crackers” are weird, but Mr. Sato can’t no i recommend them after trying them, even if they are not particularly special in taste. If you find some at your local store, try them…if you dare to develop a new, indestructible habit.
Pictures © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]