japanese pastry

Culture Shock
by Jane Boch

Carla no longer trusted chocolate. Her bite into the filled pastry contorted her face with sourness and disappointment.

“Bean paste,” Evan said, laughing.

Carla forced a swallow. “You knew?” she accused.

Carla would be in Japan for three weeks. She hoped this trip would propel her into an engagement with Evan, a U.S. Naval Officer, or prompt them to end the long-distance relationship. She couldn’t imagine marrying a man whose career demanded replacing chocolate with the gooey pastiness of mung beans.

A walk in Evan’s hilltop neighborhood led Carla to an overlook of the bay. Turning from the water view, she glimpsed a sign picturing a loaf of bread. Inside the shop, the fragrance of freshly baked goods, arranged on racks lining the walls, reminded her of the bakery in her hometown. She asked, “Sweet?” while pointing at a croissant topped with sugar.

The baker nodded and said, “Yes, sweet,” with a smile. Optimistic, Carla took two.

Sitting on a bench outside, she took a bite. The mouthful of hot, soft airiness mingled with cream cheese filling as luscious as the inside of a truffle. Yes, sweet, she thought. Maybe she could marry Evan after all.

IMAGE: Pai-Shuu (Japanese cream puffs)


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece of flash fiction is crafted around my experience of trying out desserts in Japan when we lived in the city of Yokosuka. One of my favorite outings was a walk to the bakery with Jonathan in the stroller. The cream cheese inside the croissants was truly sweet.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Jonathan and I pose with the owner of the bakery where we were frequent customers, up the hill from our house in Yokosuka, Japan (December 2009).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Boch started writing in first grade, when she won a Young Author contest for a story about an ice cream cone and a roller coaster. As an adult, her frequent moves with her submarine Naval Officer husband took her to Japan for two years. She spends her days taking care of her two boys and a three-year-old Labrador retriever.