Chewy and squishy, often brightly hued and filled with even brighter flavors, the Japanese confection known as mochi is a staple sweet snack in San Francisco. It pops up in places as general as a Trader Joes freezer case and as specific as Benkyodo, a 103-year-old family-owned counter in Japantown that specializes in the glutinous rice dumplings. But while the snack may be a familiar taste in town, mochitsuki the art and ceremony of making mochi is not, which has prompted S.F. collective Kagami Kai to share the process locally in an annual celebration of the New Year. Mochitsuki! blends culinary art with sonic science as the traditionally dressed group pounds out the rice with the same vigor as the drums; its part cooking show and part concert, with a healthy dose of hands-on artmaking afterwards. Volunteers (first adults, then children) then get to wield the giant kine (wooden mallet) and experience the mochi-making methods themselves. Experience a cultural tradition that is becoming increasingly rare, even in Japan.
Sat., Jan. 9, noon, 2010