Fruit sandwiches? What are these pretty snacks? How do they connect to maiko? Now, here’s food for a sweet adventure!
Let’s start with the basics. What is a fruit sandwich?
Basically, it’s a sandwich made from small pieces of juicy fruit slathered in whipped cream. They are tucked between two slices of white bread (crusts removed). When plated, the sandwiches present the bits of fruit like enticing, edible gems. Common fruit fillings: strawberry, oranges, kiwi, and melon. The sandwiches may also feature a single fruit.
How do you make a fruit sandwich?
Watching an experienced chef create a fruit sandwich makes it easy to understand. Namiko Chen, host of the popular website Just One Cookbook, gives easy step-by-step directions. I enjoyed watching her video. Namiko makes the process look creative and fun. Here’s the photo from her lovely website, too.
What’s the connection to maiko?
The owner of the Kyoto fruit shop Hosokawa told Nikkei News in 2019 that fruit sandwiches have long been a snack for maiko, geiko, and Kabuki actors. They consume them while busy with their arts lessons. They eat the petite snacks without getting their hands dirty.
Today, the sweet, pretty quality of the fruit sandwiches connects well to the girlish aura of maiko. In Japan sweets consumption tends to be associated with girls and women.
Fruit sandwiches in maiko manga
Koyama Aiko, author of this charming manga about maiko life, tells her own fruit sandwich tale.
It’s Christmas in the hanamachi. Clients bring strawberry and cream cakes as gifts. But maiko Momohana has been too busy to get even one bite. She feels Christmas has passed her by.
Kiyo comes to the rescue! She finds fresh cream in the refrigerator. She whips it up, slices strawberries, and makes a tasty fruit sandwich for maiko Momohana. They have a merry Christmas snack.
One fan of Aiko Koyama’s maiko manga read this episode, too. On her website, Mangashokudo, the fan shows readers how to make a fruit sandwich with strawberries, peaches, and mandarin oranges.
Fruit sandwiches are fun to make!
I had to try making one, too. With lots of help from a friend who is a very good cook. We followed the Just One Cookbook directions.
We could not find Japanese bread (shokupan) locally. But we got some white bread at a bakery nearby. Not quite the same effect, but still tasty.
Koyama Aiko. Maiko-san-chi-no Makanai-san. Episode 23, Volume 3, 2017. For its new online anime adaptation, NHK World translates the manga title as Kiyo in Kyoto: From the Maiko House.
Yamamoto Sayo. “Did Fruit Sandwiches Originate in Kyoto?” Nihon Keizai Shinbun. January 10, 2019. (In Japanese).
Thanks again to JUST ONE COOKBOOK for permission to use their lovely photo and link to their fruit sandwich instructions. Such a wonderful website!
Jan Bardsley, “A Maiko Treat: Fruit Sandwiches,” https://janbardsley.web.unc.edu/ July 1, 2021.