麦の旅 Barley/Wheat Journey

今回は麦の話です。

裸麦は芋とともに島の主食で、小麦はそれを支える大事な副食でした。昔の畑も屋根裏の貯蔵庫も、麦と芋を中心に一年がめぐります。そのサイクルを知るためにも、麦、播きました。裸麦と小麦を少ーしずつ、去年の晩秋です。

友人と一緒に「麦育ててみよう」と盛り上がりましたが、忙しくて満足に手もかけられず。しかし麦は強い。播種が遅くてもカラスに引きぬかれてもすくすく成長して、初夏に無事に収穫しました。

Barley used to be a main staple in these islands along with sweet potatoes, and wheat supplemented them throughout the year. From farm fields to storage spaces, life revolved around these food items. I grew barley and wheat last year in order to learn the cycle of a year. It was just a small amount each, and yet it led me to another interesting journey.

Together with a friend, I sowed seeds in the late Fall. Despite some damage by crows plucking the sprouts early on, they mostly grew on their own while we were busy and paid little attention. We harvested them in the early summer. Barley first, then wheat after a couple of weeks. Pretty easy!

春 Spring

Spring
収穫のとき Right before harvesting
収穫のとき
Right before harvesting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

脱穀 Threshing

それからが大変です。昔のように手作業でやりたい(機械でやるには量が少なすぎたせいもあり)けど、経験も道具もありません。色んな人に聞きまわったら、たくさんのアドバイスと足踏み脱穀機が手に入りました。「裸麦には向かんとよ」と言われながらも裸麦をかけてみると、なるほど、穂先ごとむしり取られてしまいます。強引にかけてしまい、あとは穂先を叩いて実を外し、大きいカラは手で取り除き、小さいのは風に吹かせて飛ばし…なんとか粒が見えました。一転して小麦は足踏み脱穀機が本領発揮、粒が面白いくらい簡単に落ちます。それを唐箕にかけて、完成。あとは干し上げるのみ。

足踏み脱穀機 Foot-powered thresher
足踏み脱穀機
Foot-powered thresher

img_2753Challenges came after the harvest. The crop was so small in quantity that we couldn’t use a machine to thresh. That was okay, we wanted to try it in the old way by hand anyways. Having had little knowledge or tools, I asked around and got some advice and an old foot-powered thresher. They said it didn’t work well with barley, but was fine for wheat. Barley grains adhere to the head much more stubbornly than wheat. But this was our only tool, so we ran the barley through it. It tore the heads off the stalks. We then beat the heads to force the grains off them, removed the empty heads and stalks by hand, and had wind blow the husks. After repeating these steps several times, we finally started seeing the bare grains. What a process! Wheat, on the other hand, was much easier.  The thresher got most of the berries off and winnowing made it nearly perfect.

img_2760img_2778

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

精麦(裸麦)Polishing (Barley)

梅雨入りしてしまい、干し上げるのは明けた7月中旬になりましたが、やっと「食べる」に近づけます。主食の裸麦はこれを炊いて食べていたわけですが、炊く前に「搗く」という精麦作業が必要。昔は何日分かまとめて唐臼で搗いておき、その日ごとに食べる分をまた竪杵で搗いて、炊いていたそう。そんな道具もないもので、すり鉢とすりこ木でゴロゴロトントンやってみました。大島では、水を差しながら杵で搗く作業を「ぞうぶる(動詞)」と言います。最初は水を入れる理由や加減もさっぱり分からなかったけれど、やっているうちに何となく感覚がつかめてきました。粒がふやけて剥けやすいし、摩擦もよくかかるのかな。

すり鉢とすりこ木で搗いてみる Wrong tools...
すり鉢とすりこ木で搗いてみる
Wrong tools…

img_3019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rainy season put the project on hold for a month or so. When the sun came out again we spread the grains to dry. Finally, we could move on to cooking and eating, except that cooking also required quite a bit of work. Barley would be eaten cooked and served in a bowl just like rice today. It has to be polished before cooking, which was a big chore. The first polishing was often done by another foot-powered device — grains in a big wooden or stone mortar were beaten with a big wooden pounder that has a couple-meter long handle. Pounding would be done in a see-saw like mechanism. Women or girls with babies on their back (for weight) would step on the end of the handle to lift the pounder and then drop it. This did the first rough polishing of a few kilos of barley at once, then the second and more thorough polishing was done by hand with a smaller set before cooking each day. Both times, a small amount of water was added to help the grains rub against each other better. I tried with a Japanese kitchen mortar and pestle. Wrong tools, but that was all I had. My hands had no idea what they should feel or how much water would be appropriate, but after a while the skin of the grains softened and started to peel off.

炊く(裸麦)

大島では「丸麦は2回炊かんと柔らかくならん」と聞いていたけど、実際、炊き方をきちんと覚えている人は少ないようです。今の80代は当時は一日中野良仕事に出る働き盛り、炊事はその上の世代の仕事だったとか。そういうわけで会いに行ったのが98歳のツヨさん。「ぞうぶっ」てから吸水はさせずに火にかけて、吹いたら止めて混ぜて、また炊く。これを3回繰り返すと柔らかく炊ける。米1合でも入れるとすごくおいしくなる。と教えてくれました。手順に沿って炊き始めたけれどなかなか柔らかくならず、だいぶ長く炊いてやっと!裸麦の麦飯が出来ました。プチプチでぽろぽろ。楽しい食感だけど、米のごはんがごちそうだったのもよーく分かります。大島の徳蔵さんが中学生の頃、下宿先の親戚のばあちゃんに持たされた昼ごはんは、お弁当箱いっぱいの麦飯と梅干し一個。2年間毎日毎日これでした。徳蔵さんは「あれはもう見るごつもなか」と言う日もあれば、「もう一回食べてみるごた」って気分の日もあるようです。そのうちに押し麦が出回るようになり、すぐ炊けるし柔らかいからとても楽になったといいます。

I had heard many times that you had to cook barley twice to get it soft enough to eat. But my friends in their 70s and 80s didn’t remember further details of the cooking part. In the time when barley was eaten daily, cooking was mostly done by a generation older than them while they were out working in the fields all day. So I was sent to 98 year-old Tsuyo san. She kindly taught me how to cook it, but only verbally. I had to do the actual cooking on my own. I ended up cooking it for a long time instead of dividing it into two or three (I am guessing that they did so to save firewood). It seems like mine was not polished and cooked enough and turned out crumbly and chewy. It should be very soft and mushy. Back in the day, soft, smooth, or white were the desired adjectives for good food. Tsuyo san said if you had a little white rice (a luxurious food) to cook with barley, it made it more sticky and “so delicious”. I liked the texture of my boiled barley, but it’s probably because I live in a time where I can eat rice everyday.

70年前の中学生のお弁当 A teenager's lunch 70 years ago
70年前の中学生のお弁当
A teenager’s lunch 70 years ago

挽く(小麦)Grinding (Wheat)

小麦を粉にするにはそのまま挽きます。豆腐のために現役復帰させた挽臼を出してきて、麦を入れて回し始めると、最初しばらく引っかかる手応えが続いてから、砕けた小麦が出てきました。これをふるって挽いて、またふるって、と4回繰り返して、かなり黒い全粒粉が出来ました。2kgの麦を3人で交代しながら挽いて数時間。昔は挽臼は常に土間に据えてあり、手が空いたといってはゴロゴロ回して粉を生産していたとのこと。なかなかの重労働。これを根気強く回してハレの日の団子を作っていたのでしょうと思うと、熱いものがこみ上げます。これを練ってパン(発酵、無発酵ともに)やクッキーにして、粉の味を楽しんでいます。近々、大島で一緒に挽いてだご汁を作って食べる予定です。

To make wheat flour, you just have to grind it. The millstone we had recovered came into play. We poured grains into the hole and started grinding. Cracked wheat came out. Sift it, grind again, sift again…we repeated it four times and we finally got coarse whole wheat flour. It took three of us a few hours to grind 2 kilos of wheat. In a typical traditional house, until a few decades ago, a millstone would sit at the corner of doma kitchen and women would turn it whenever they had extra time. It was a hard work but rewarded them with a vital ingredients for special treats like dango. We’ve been enjoying the flavour of this very local flour in chapati, bread, cookies and biscuits. I plan on visiting Oshima with this and making dumpling soup with my older friends sometime soon.

小麦挽き Grinding wheat
小麦挽き
Grinding wheat
全粒粉クッキー Cookies!
全粒粉クッキー
Cookies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

こうして辿ってみると、なんとまあ長い道のりでしょう。「食べる」という行為には、本当はこれだけの時間と手間と気持ちが込められているもの。その分だけ噛みしめる麦の味も濃く深いものになります。じいちゃんばあちゃんたちの強さと優しさがここから来ているのだと、じんと感じた日々でした。

This barley & wheat journey taught me again just how much time and work were involved in the act of eating. In that time and work, uncountable scenes, conversations and feelings are packed. It allowed me to have a glance at the images that my older friends might have in their minds when they tell me their stories. Their food not only made their bodies resilient but also their hearts kind and generous. You are what you eat, indeed.

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