this is japan: udon-flavored caramels and katapan

Since March, my mother has been completing the Shikoku pilgrimage – consisting of visiting 88 temples over approximately 1200 km – in four day installments. Every few months, my mother packs up her conical hat and her walking shoes, my dog freaks out (she has separation anxiety issues; I instantly become her new best friend), and my mother returns home with presents.

The past few visits rewarded my dog whispering skills with small good luck charms shaped like monks. A few days ago, fresh home from her third pilgrimage visit, my mother came back with udon flavored caramels (they also apparently made with udon broth) and udon-themed tenugui fabric.

Plus a package of rock-hard, ginger-flavored biscuits called katapan (which literally means, “hard bread”). Coated in sugar and just lightly spicy, these are really, really good. Massive consumption is prudently limited by my desire to not break all my teeth. Some light gnawing will snap off a shard that can’t be immediately chomped between teeth. Despite the mastication issues, my mouth waters a little thinking about them.

Oh, and those caramels? They were...interesting.