Anpan interlude

Anpan from Yuki's

Anpan from Yuki's

Anpan, a soft, chewy bun filled with sweet bean paste, is one of the most wonderful Japanese foods to which I have been exposed. To quote Yusuke, his mouth full of the tasty pastry: “It’s so sad that Canadians don’t know about anpan.” My picture doesn’t really show it well, but an image search yields more examples. For those interested in etymology, the an refers to anko, which is the red bean paste, and pan is borrowed from the Romance language root for bread (e.g., French pain). I can’t really compare it to anything that’s common in North America; you’ll just have to taste it for yourself. As Yusuke says, “it’s sooooooo good.” Especially when it’s fresh out of the oven from Yuki’s Bakery.

Yuki’s is a fabulous boulangerie/pâtisserie in our neighbourhood owned by a Japanese ex-pat and her husband. They have exquisite European-style truffles, tarts, and cookies—often with a Japanese twist, all types of bread and pastries, and a few deli items like cheeses, sandwiches, and quiche. And most importantly, anpan. They only make it on Saturday mornings, so I often stop in to buy a treat for Yusuke, but I have to get there early before it’s all gone. The owner always knows that I’m there for anpan! Yuki’s also sells their wares at the local Japanese festivals, and at the August matsuri we sampled their green tea cheese cake and of course, anpan.

Anpan is so popular in Japan that there is a very famous (think Bugs Bunny) kids’ cartoon character called Anpanman. Anpanman is a super-hero whose head, naturally, is Anpan. One of his special powers is an an-punch. He has a huge cast of food-themed friends, including Onigiri-man (rice-ball man), Currypan-man (curry bread man), and his dog Cheese. I love the pictures of all the characters on this Japanese site (click on the image of Cheese the dog). Anpanman’s nemesis is Baikinman (Germ Man). Scary!

We took the opportunity to pose with a cardboard Anpanman at the festival in August.

Anpanman and me!

Anpanman and me!

Anpanman and Yusuke

Anpanman and Yusuke

Baikinman

Baikinman

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1 Comment

  1. […] especially prominent in Japanese desserts. They’re used to make the sweet bean paste used in anpan, for example. Sometimes you’ll see the word spelled “adzuki,” but Yusuke […]

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