Shimeno’s Tofu 示野の豆腐

This product sold at supermarkets in Vienna for me is acceptable.
If one wants to be real Tofu, some Asia shops have it.

“Hit your head on a corner of Tofu and die” is a Japanese saying that used to be commonly heard some time ago. All Japanese know that Tofu is quite soft and therefore this expression is extremely sarcastic. In Austria however the Tofu types usually sold at supermarkets are quite hard. Of course not as hard as stone but for Japanese it is very unusual and seems like a different kind of product. Obviously it is not conceivable to hit your head on it and die. Maybe if it were frozen…

Bad jokes aside. My great grandfather Shimeno produced Tofu as a job. I call him “Shimeno great grandfather” because his family had no children and adopted my grandfather (mother’s side) when he was a child. Therefore “Shimeno Great grandfather” is not a direct blood relative of us three. According to my mother, she and her parents lived together with Shimeno family until about the age of attending early primary school. After that my grandfather’s family moved to Tokyo where his real biological father lived.

As a young child, my mother experienced my great grandfather’s Tofu shop. That was a small Tofu shop which not only sold but also produced Tofu themselves. Early in the morning before sunrise my Shimeno’s Great Grandfather got up, lit the furnace and started cooking Tofu. When my mother got up to go the bathroom she always used to observe that and she always greeted him “Grandfather, do you make Tofu?”

When I remember this story of my mother, I can literally picture that scene. In the dark, the furnace brightly lit and a grandfather standing in front of it working. Close to him my grandmother as a child with a bob haircut walking by him half asleep and greeting him… I find that so heartwarming and it puts a smile on my face. My mother heard from my grandfather that cats often used to lie on the residually warm ashes of the previous day and when he lit the fire, those cats quickly came out and ran away.

By the way, Tofu is one of my favourite foods. I heard that “Shimeno Tofu” was pretty popular. I really wanted one time to try Shimeno Tofu. What kind of taste was it?…




 この話を思い出す度に、私は目の前にその光景を想像します。暗闇にあかあかと燃えるかまどの前に立ち、豆腐を作っている老人。その前を、おかっぱ頭の幼い母が、寝ぼけ眼でてくてくと歩いて通りかかる… なんとも微笑ましい光景のように思えて、心が暖かくなります。また、よく、かまどの中の前日の温かい灰の上で飼い猫が寝ていて、火を焚べたとたんに、大慌てで飛び出してきた、という話を、母は曽祖父から聞いた、と言っていました。


Picture by Yuka Simeno