As each December draws to a close, we can't wait for Japanese grocery stores to start stocking osechi ryori, boxes of New Year's treats. Each is packed with colorful, beautifully composed delicacies representing all sorts of good things for the year to come: dried and roasted sardines seasoned with mirin, dashi, and sesame seeds (for a good harvest); constellations of salted herring roe (for fertility); golden gobs of mashed sweet potatoes studded with starchy chestnuts (for wealth); loaves of festive pink-and-white fish cake (for happiness); sweet black soybeans simmered in sugar and soy sauce (for health); pickled rounds of lotus root (for wisdom); and more. The boxes, which are available only this time of year, are for sharing with family and friends, along with glasses of toso, spiced mulled sake. We can't think of a better way to ring in the New Year.
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