Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Bits of pineapple, white peach and azuki beans suspended in a creamy ice milk bar are the essence of this delightful frozen confection from Marunaga, Tokyo's main milk giant. The Shirokuma (polar bear) Bar is a sticked version of a traditional Kagoshima shaved ice, served with condensed milk, azuki beans and fruit. The origin of the traditional dessert is up to some question. One suggestion is that it was a pre-WWII treat that developed in Kagoshima, named Shirokuma after the polar bear that was on the label of the condensed milk used. Another version puts its invention after WWII, with a certain coffeehouse inventing the snack, shaping the ice into the shape of a polar bear. Whatever its provenance, it is a great combination of flavors and textures, built for taste, and most likely from necessity - yet another wonderful use of condensed milk, Gail Borden's 19th century invention that helped usher in the age of industrial food production.