As a Southerner who loves ambrosia salad, Watergate salad, and banana & Duke’s mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread, I can get behind the Japanese delight – the fruit sandwich – featured in a recent New York Times Magazine article.
In fact, this article has given me an idea – I am going to test out using mascarpone cheese to make my
– ambrosia (often made with sour cream, but here in the South you might get some mayonnaise mixed in) and
– Watergate salad (often made with Cool Whip, but here in the South, you might get some mayonnaise mixed in) AND
– my banana/mayo sandwiches (sometimes peanut butter is slathered on)
Of course, I’ll add a dollop of mayo to the mascarpone in all cases. Also, my new favorite word is “fuwa-fuwa.” – Angela Perez
Here is an excerpt from the Times Magazine article (written by Ligaya Mishan):
“…I was not prepared, then, for the wonder that is the fruit sandwich. I did not even know that such a thing existed until I saw it a few years ago on the menu of a tiny Japanese cafe on the Lower East Side, then run by Yudai Kanayama, a native of Hokkaido.
It came to the table on wax paper, not a dainty tea sandwich that I could hold with just the tips of my fingers but two triangles as thick as cake and tilted upward to show off their insides: fat strawberries, a golden orb of canned peach and green kiwi with black ellipses of seeds.
The fruit was engulfed in whipped cream mixed with yogurt for more body. This was implausibly airy yet dense; in Japanese, the texture is called fuwa-fuwa, fluffy like a cloud. Pressed on either side were crustless slices of shokupan, soft milk bread that sinks and agreeably springs back, evoking the squishy white bread of an American childhood, but richer and more resilient.
In Japan, an island nation where land for crops is limited, fruit is treated as a luxury. Entire stores are devoted to tenderly cultivated specimens, from giant Ruby Roman grapes, each weighing at least 20 grams — nearly a fifth of that sugar — to Bijin-hime (beautiful princess) strawberries the size of a baby’s fist, only about 500 grown each year and one of which sold at auction for 50,000 yen (around $468) in 2020.
The origins of the fruit sandwich are believed to go back to the fruit parlors attached to these stores, where customers could sample the wares. Now they’re served at konbini (convenience stores) and embedded with strawberries cut into tulips and kiwis for stems. Kanayama, a restaurateur who survived the pandemic by building fogged-plexiglass table dividers and outdoor dining huts for other restaurants (his own properties in downtown Manhattan include the Izakaya NYC and Dr Clark), developed his version from memories of a sandwich shop in his hometown, Sapporo. These days, he makes it with mascarpone instead of yogurt, to give it extra creaminess.”