Ume, うめ, is the Japanese word for plum. During the summer, I just haven’t been able to stop myself from consuming all things plum. Lately I’ve been buying a lot of the fruit itself, which isn’t so bad, but earlier this summer, I have been trying to quench a severe craving for Japanese plum juice (冷梅,ひやしうめ)!
I can’t really claim to be much of an alcohol drinker, but I must say that umeshuu (うめしゅう) or plum sake is incredibly tasty (nothing tops that peach sake I had in Hakone, though). If I were guzzling umeshuu, it might be a bit more manly because there’s alcohol involved, but sadly, that’s not it. I didn’t drink a single, solitary drop of umeshuu during the summer vacation. I am talking about plum juice. Not every machine has plum juice, but when I find a machine with some in there, I go hog wild. There’s is something about that refreshingly cool, slightly more tart than sweet, zing you get when you drink one of those cute, little Japanese bottles of this stuff. I know I sound like I’m advertising this stuff, but I love it, and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve had plum juice before, and it didn’t really have a huge effect on me. I mean it was good, but it didn’t flip my mind into “must…have…more…ume juice” mode. I purchased my first vending machine bottle of this stuff on a day trip to Enoshima (I’ll tell you more about that in another post ). I unscrewed the lid, and one sip sent my subconscious boring through the recesses of my memories. Where on earth have I tasted this before?
My mind was literally searching for the answer for better part of an hour. AHH!! I got it! The plum juice reminded me of “Squeeze Its.” I don’t know if anybody remembers those, but Squeeze Its were the soft, plastic bottles of juice that they sold in the U.S. in early 90’s.* My favorite flavor was “Mean Green Puncher” and it tasted a lot like this very plum juice
*the had them in Germany about ten years prior, though, under a different name
It’s almost like when I opened that bottle and sipped, I could hear Minnie Riperton’s voice singing “Back down memory lane.” That sweet tang, sigh. You know what? I’m about to go and get a bottle right now! See you tomorrow!
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