Product: Roku Gin

Shun: Taste the seasons

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Massive, blushing pink, peaches with a deep candied fragrance, and a taste so succulent they’re impossible to bite into without sweet juices dripping down your chin – a sensual delight that can only be experienced when celebrating seasonal food at its peak.

In South Africa, eating seasonally is recommended by foodies and nutritionists as a more sustainable and healthier way to shop, and not to mention it’ll help save you a rand or two. In Japan, the philosophy that all food should be eaten only in its proper season, at the peak of its flavour, is deeply ingrained into the culture which can be described in one word that has no equivalent in English: shun (pronounced ‘shoon’). With eyes on Japan this September (for sport enthusiasts), we dug deeper into this way of life and how you can practice it at home.

What is shun? The celebration of the moment that seasonal fruits are the sweetest, vegetables are at their prime, and meat at its most tender. Seasonal celebrations such as rice planting and harvest festivals can be traced back to Japan’s nature-loving Shinto religion, which is still practiced today, making up a large part of the country’s psyche.  According to Japanese tradition, “shun” foods taste better and thus provide more nutrients, and are cheaper. This practice and the change of season are visible throughout the country – anticipation, and excitement for vibrant vegetables, fruits, and flowers are offered in spectacular fashion throughout the markets and restaurants. Some shopkeepers, who specialise in selling particular veggies, only open once a year for a span of a few months while chef’s tailor their menus according to the best seasonal ingredients available each day.

Seasonality, however, also extends beyond the plate and can be seen in colours of fashion, décor, and art. The treasured practice is even integrated into the genetic make-up of local brands such as Roku Gin who’s use of shun ensures a perfectly balanced spirit and is a testimony to Japan’s renowned craftsmanship.

With spring on the horizon, South Africa will soon be welcoming the change of season with an impressive array of flora and irresistible produce. So we’ve put together a few tips for how you can practice shun the next time you hit the shops:

  • Support farmers’ markets such as the Granger Bay market in Cape Town, the Neighbourhoods market in Joburg and Shongweni Farmers Market in Durban, and buy in bulk when the produce is cheap. Freeze peaches, plums when they are in season (spring) and use them all year-round
  • Sign-up for fresh produce delivery services such as Harvest of Hope or Edible in the Western Cape, The Munching Mongoose in Joburg, or The Veg Box Company in Kwazulu-Natal to get fresh food delivered straight to your door
  • Grow your own – whether it’s a pot of tomatoes or essentials spices, you’ll be able to have fresh food at hand whenever you need it
  • Visit flora at its best. In the Western Cape, you can get a glimpse of the much-anticipated bloom of cherry blossoms in Ceres. In Japan seeing the flowers is such a beloved pastime, the Japanese even have a word for it: Hanami, which translates as “watching blossoms.” An event with a viewing period of only two weeks, that is anxiously awaited the whole year
  • Go for brands that practice shun. Roku Gin, which launched in South Africa this year, harvests its six native botanicals seasonally – Sakura flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, Sencha tea, Gyokuro tea, and Sansho pepper

 

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