Autumn Cuisine

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The convenience stores are stocking oden now. These stewed bits of fish paste sausages, daikon, whole eggs, and tofu-based dainties will stink up the stores in a matter of weeks. There's a certain scent--bitter, acrid, fishy--that punctuates winter-time conbini visits.

At the supermarkets, end cap displays are laden with pottery nabe, portable gas ranges, and gas canisters. There are nashi, grapes and mikan in every fruit aisle. Chestnuts are everywhere and expensive matsutake mushrooms are carefully displayed in wooden boxes. And there are all the makings of oden, which is much better done at home than from the conbini.

Within a week or so, the vending machines will convert to hot drinks and soups. I'm looking forward to a crisp day and a nice hot cocoa to warm my hands.

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One of Tara's favorite things during the winter was to get a oh-so-hot can of corn soup from a vending machine. The can warmed her hands and the soup warmed her tummy.

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