Hatto sabure cookies
“Hatto sabure” are a kind of cookie that my wife always gives me to take to Canada as gifts for relatives there whenever I travel home. They are sweet butter cookies shaped like a pigeon, or “hatto” in Japanese. “Sabure” is from “sable,” the French butter cookie, or Breton Biscuit. (Aha! More Japanese imports and loanwords! What genius!) Kamakura, the small seaside town in Kanagawa Prefecture south of Tokyo is famous for them (but most famous for the Great Buddha - the “Daibutsu” - at the Kotoku-in temple), but my wife buys them at a department store near the Shinjuku Station commuter hub. If we eat them together in Tokyo as a family we have all noticed that we eat then in a very gender-specific way. My son and I start at the head while my wife and daughter start at the tail.
On Sunday, July 21st my wife bought some cookies for me to take to Canada on my July 23rd departure. But she bought a few extra for us to eat then and there.
“Here. Don’t eat now. Eat later.”
“It’s bad for you. Too sweet.”
“But Ken is already eating his. And what are you doing!? Why are you opening yours?”
Everybody was eating already.
“I am okay. But not you.”
She and my daughter commenced to chat and ignore me, dumb husband that I was still standing there with a plastic-wrapped cookie in my hand.
But she soon returned to me:
“How do you eat your cookie?”
“What, you mean it’s okay now for me to eat mine now instead of later?”
“No. I mean do you eat like Ken?”
Ken’s bird’s head was already gone. Meanwhile, his sister was busy with her tail, like a beaver in the woods, or a squirrel with its nuts.
“I see,” I said. “You mean, you and Emma eat the same way, but Ken and I eat differently in our own way. Like, he and I start at the head and you and Emma start at the tail. Maybe it’ a boy-girl thing. Ken, do you always start with the head?”
Girls are sadistic barbarians. We boys are filled with gentle, divilized loving kindness.
“Yabanjin!” (You’re barbarians) my daughter accused.
“No, you’re wrong. You girls are the barbarians. Boys are the civilized ones. Look! By quickly snapping off the head we are being merciful. We are killing it before we eat it. But look at Emma. She’s gnawing away at the tail and the bird is still alive! You girls are torturing it! Girls are sadistic barbarians, not us. We boys are filled with gentle loving kindness, so we want to kill the bird quickly so it doesn’t suffer. But you girls eat your birds alive!”