- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
rice, leaf mustard
- History/origin/related events
In the southern region of the prefecture, where fishing and forestry are thriving, mehari-zushi became popular as an easy-to-eat lunch between busy fishing and mountain work. It is made by wrapping a large rice ball in salt-pickled takana. There are various theories as to the origin of the name "mehari-zushi" (meaning "eye-opening mouth" or "eye-wateringly delicious"), or "because the rice ball is completely wrapped as if it is eye-opening.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Takana is harvested from winter to early spring. Since takana is easy to grow even in areas with poor sunlight, it was actively cultivated in the mountainous areas of the southern region of the prefecture, where there are few flat areas. In Shingu City, large, tender leaves of takana are harvested. In addition to pickling takana at home, it can also be used as a seasoned or boiled dish, and the core of the pickled takana can be finely chopped and sprinkled over "chagayu" (green tea gruel).
- How to eat
Harvested takana is pickled in barrels with salt around January or February. The color gradually turns brown, but it will last until autumn. The pickled takana is dipped in vinegar and rolled into a round ball of rice. The rice can be served as it is or as sushi rice, depending on one's preference. In the days when rice was precious, more barley was used in the nigiri than white rice. In the Shimosato area of Nachi-Katsuura Town, whitebait from the river was boiled in sweet and spicy sauce and mixed with rice, which was then wrapped in takana (a type of leaf mustard).
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Nowadays, the mainstay of the rice is made into small, easy-to-eat rice balls, and the ingredients used in the rice are diverse, ranging from the finely chopped and soy sauce seasoned axis and core, to dried bonito flakes, dried plums, and baby sardines. The dish has changed and developed with the times, and is still being passed down to the younger generation. Some products are registered as "Premier Wakayama" products.