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Dorayaki, Friendship and Taking Stock of Unfinished Business

The last Monday in May is one of eight bank holidays in the UK. What we now see simply as a public holiday and a three-day weekend was originally a day in the 19th Century when banks were closed for trading – hence the name – a day to tidy up accounts, get bookkeeping in order and generally take stock of business. Adopting that view in my mash this week, I took a step back from mindless content reading and slow-read the Japanese novel, あん An, by Sukegawa Durian.

Translated by Alison Watts as Sweet Bean Paste and adapted as Sweet Bean by filmmaker, Kawase Naomi, the story is about a friendship that develops between a reluctant ex-con confectioner and a mysterious old woman. The confectioner makes dorayaki, a Japanese street dessert favorite composed of sweetened adzuki bean paste sandwiched between two kasutera pancakes. Kasutera cakes are a Japanese interpretation of Castella sponge cakes brought over by Portuguese traders and missionaries in the 16th century together with guns, tobacco and pumpkins. By cooking and eating the sweet bean baste dorayaki steeped in a rich shared history, Sweet Bean is ultimately a story about the redemptive power of friendship and how human connection can even heal unfinished wounds from the past.

I haven't yet watched the film so I'm hoping to watch Sweet Bean on Amazon Prime this bank holiday weekend. As the lockdown measures ease, hopefully you'll be able to enjoy the company of friends, and maybe pick up a dorayaki or two, too. It looks like Londoners are promised some sun. Enjoy the long weekend!

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