- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
Hebo (black hornet, also called local bee), rice
- History/origin/related events
A local dish of Ena City and the surrounding area using the larvae of hebo (black hornet, a bee about 2 cm in length that nests in the ground). High in protein and calories, hebo was a valuable source of protein in this region far from the sea, and was served as a treat to important guests as well as to promote the health of the local residents.
The culture of eating hebo is flourishing in the mountainous areas from Shinshu to Okumikawa. In the "Souzan's Book of Wonders" (Miyoshi Souzan, 1850) written in the Edo period, there is already a description of the eating of "hebo-meshi," rice mixed with rice, seasoned with bee larva and soy sauce, in Mino and Shinano provinces, indicating that it was a long-standing food custom.
In addition to hebo-meshi, there are other hebo dishes, such as sweetened rice cakes with a savory texture and hebo gohei-mochi, which have been passed down from generation to generation as a secret local cuisine.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Generally, the larvae and other larvae are caught and eaten in the fall, when the nests of black wasps are growing large. Depending on the region and cuisine, not only larvae but also adults are eaten by roasting them.
- How to eat
The main way to eat the larvae is to cook them in a sweet and spicy sauce made of sugar, soy sauce, and sake.
Hebo rice cooked with sweetened soy sauce, rice, and soy sauce, and gohei-mochi (rice cakes) made by rubbing sweetened soy sauce into the sauce are also typical ways to eat hebo.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Although it has decreased in number, it is still made at home, and can be tasted at restaurants in the Tono area, and can also be purchased on the Internet.
Kushihara in Ena City holds a "hebo nest contest" every November. Hebo lovers gather from all over Japan to compete in the weight of their prized hebo nests. On the day of the event, hebo dishes and hebo nests are sold.