Now why on earth would I say that? And to be clear, the rule only applies if you live in Kyoto and if you’re a true down-to-the-bone Kyotoite. And I wonder if today’s wakamono even know about this.
If you go to Nishiki Market now, you’ll see kyūri being sold on a stick as a snack. How refreshing and nice for a hot day, right? Even in jūichigatsu, my daughter enjoyed her cucumber greatly.
The problem with the cucumber, it seems, is the katachi that you see when you slice it. Apparently it resembles the crest of Yasaka Shrine. So, just as one might fast on Yom Kippur, or give up something for Lent, the people of Kyoto give up cucumbers for the month of July so that Gion Festival will come off successfully. Or, at least that’s one theory.
On another note, one hot summer in August I was visiting my in-laws and my giri no okāsan and I were preparing lunch. An old uncle came into the daidokoro and got alarmed to see the sōmen.
“Hosonagai no wa dame desu…” he said. His wife was very thin and ailing and giving her a very thin noodle would be bad luck.
One more. When I had my daughter in 1984 we were told at the hospital to eat white food to bring in our milk. But there’s a basis for this. The ideal white food would be omochi. Back in the day when food was scarce, mochi was a good way to get some nutrition, i.e. karorī. In fact, that’s why to this day, a bowl of udon with mochi in it is called Chikara Udon!
- wakamono – 若者 young people
- kyūri – きゅうり cucumber
- jūichigatsu – 十一月 November
- katachi – 形 shape, appearance
- giri no okāsan – 義理のお母さん mother-in-law
- daidokoro – 台所 kitchen
- Hosonagai no wa dame desu – 細長いのは駄目です。”No long and thin foods, please.” My uncle considered this to be bad luck because the noodles could easily break, as could his wife’s health.
- omochi – お餅 We know what this is, right?
- karorī – カロリー calories or calorie
- Chikara Udon -力うどん a type of udon that usually has a piece or two or mochi in it.