This is an old post for poetry month, but my oldest boy asked for his grandma's new year's soup recipe, so I'm reposting.
Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu, Mino-chan. (Happy 2012 Isaac No'eau Minoru)
The phone starts ringing at 6 am,
never mind that we've been sleeping for two hours,
never mind that we're thick headed with dreams,
groggy from days of food preparation for New Year's eve,
lightheaded from the sulfuric pungency of the firecracker showers,
the phone will keep ringing until we pick up.
my mother-in-law's voice on the other side
chipper and alert in that way that people that are retired
can be alert at 6 in the morning.
"Take your time. . .come when the kids get up,"
that's what she always says,
that's never what she means.
We urge each other out of the cocoon of blankets,
knowing that if we wait too long,
say 7 am,
the phone will start ringing again.
Eyes thick with maka pia pia,
ears still ringing from the fireworks,
the five of us obediently arrive
for our bowl of ozōni,
clear broth soup
with a soft mochi sunken under
bright green mizuna
and floating hokkigai,
a New Year's tradition,
a luxury of simplicity,
a samurai's sustenance on the battlefield.
We sip unconsciously,
let the hot saltiness of the broth
clean the residual sulfur in our throats,
nibble at the crisp mizuna stallks
that taste like lazy summer afternoons
and pull long taffy like pieces of mochi
into our mouth
feel the glutinous melting,
the satisfaction of stickiness.
Another year begins,
started with clear broth, water to purify,
greens to cleanse,
mochi to hold us together,
a familiar first step.
Grandma Ikeda's Ozōni (New Year's Mochi Soup)
5 cans chicken broth
1 can hokkigai (Japanese surf clams)
Mizuna (Japanese water greens) chopped and kept uncooked on the side
Heat the chicken broth and put in the hokkigai. Put the raw mizuna on the bottom of the bowl, the soft mochi on top and pour the hot broth over it.
Note: if using fresh pounded mochi, just put it in. If you're using frozen mochi, cook it in a separate water bath until the mochi is soft but not disintegrating, so don't do this until everyone is up and ready to eat or you'll have mochi water.