Sansai Udon:

Sansai Udon Hida Japan

Udon noodle soup with wild mountain vegetables and nameko mushrooms in Hida, Japan (2005)

Hida is a small city in Gifu Prefecture, Japan near Takayama. In fact you sometimes see the area called Hida-Takayama. It’s known for a few things including sake breweries, Hida beef and wild mountain vegetables collectively known as sansai (山菜). Many of the traditional ryokan inns here serve an entire cuisine built around these vegetables known as Sansai Ryori which has more than a little in common with Kaiseki Ryori. You don’t have to stay at a ryokan to eat these vegetables though, they are served all over the place when in season. In the photo above is a bowl of udon noodle soup served at a small lunch counter with a couple of different kinds of mountain vegetables and the little slippery mushrooms known as nameko (なめこ) which also grow wild here. Along with the Kirin beer this meal didn’t cost very much, but was made right in front of me and really got the point across.

I don’t smoke, but the Lark cigarette tin in the photo sort of defines (the end of?) an era.