|Posted on July 6, 2009 at 7:47 AM|
I was surrounded by delicious temptations growing up in Tokyo. Nishimura Fruit Parlor in Dogenzaka, Shibuya was one of them. We could get suspended from school if you got caught eating at these parlors and cafes in school uniform. But we did it anyway, a gang of girl deliquents that we were. Dongenzaka is still where the young and restless rendevous, looking for the same kind of thrill. Most of the other older style Japanese cafes where you could get agar agar fruit (Mitsumame), sweet azuki bean soup (oshiruko) and grilled mochi wrapped in nori seaweeed have sadly disappeared and replaced or being replaced by ramen noodle places, 99 Yen stores, massage parlors, H&M, Starbucks, etc. But this old fruit parlor still stands. Maybe so because the parfaits (that's what they call the ice cream sundaes in Japan) have kept their fantastic overkill look. Except in my days, we didn't get exotic toppings like star fruit, papayas and kiwi on our parfaits. We didn't even know such fruit existed on the planet. Strawberries, bananas and pineapple were about as exotic as you could get in Japan back then. I remember saving the slice of banana in my parfait till the very end because it was so precious. Here I was with my gang of girlfriends spending our entire month's allowance at the fruit parlor after school. What a thrill we had deconstructing this towering work of art. I still talk about the parfaits with my old girlfriends. The parfaits came with a long skinny spoon so you can use it to scoop out the ice cream in the middle and poke at the fruit on the bottom. My petite Taiwanese girlfriend Peichun was always the one who went for the biggest parfait and tackled it with no sweat. Somehow, when I got home, I had plenty of appetite left for dinner. My mother had no way of tracing my crime. These days if you go to Nishimura Fruit Parlor, you will often find blonde Japanese youngsters in weird customes, wearing horrible eye make up and hair dos. They usually change into these customes and dab the stuff on their face at the train stations. They don't look anything like the teenager I was but I know we share the same feeling about the parfaits.