Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Annie. Annie Wonders, “What do people eat around the world for dessert???” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Annie!
Do you have a sweet tooth? Most kids love chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, and pizza. But what about dessert?
When your meal is finished, do you yearn for a sweet treat? Perhaps some ice cream? Or is a slice of pie or a piece of cake more to your liking?
If you live in Japan, there may be an entirely different sweet treat you look forward to. Especially popular as a way to celebrate the New Year, mochi is a Japanese delicacy that has become a new favorite around the world.
The Japanese like watching mochi being made about as much as they like eating it. Mochi is usually made by traditional artisans who pound steamed rice in a large wooden mortar (called an usu) with a wooden mallet (called a kine). The Japanese call this process mochi-tsuki.
Unlike the regular rice you might be used to eating, mochi is made from a very sweet, sticky type of rice known as mochigome. Mochi dates back to the 8th century when it was first made as an offering to the gods at local shrines.
Pieces of mochi, although small, pack a powerful punch. One small cake of mochi about the size of a matchbox is the equivalent of eating a whole bowl of rice. For this reason, mochi became popular among the Samurai, who needed portable food that would sustain them for long periods of time.
Today, mochi is still known as a symbol of good fortune and happy marriages. This explains why it's so popular during Japanese New Year celebrations.
A new version of mochi combined with ice cream has become a popular treat around the world. In fact, many people now associate mochi with ice cream rather than the traditional rice cake.
Before you try mochi, you should be warned that it can be dangerous. The sticky, chewy rice cakes must be chewed thoroughly before swallowing. Unfortunately, young children and elderly adults who have trouble chewing or swallowing have been known to choke and suffocate on mochi.
Each year, mochi is responsible for several deaths. This has prompted Japanese officials to issue warnings annually around the time of New Year celebrations to make people aware of the dangers of mochi, the "silent killer."