Celebrate the Japanese custom of Hanami with your own cherry blossom picnic

By Urvashi Roe •

Spring is definitely in the air. In the UK we've had reasonably mild weather & now lots of rain (along with a hosepipe ban), but there's a lot of pretty blossom on the trees.  Great British Chefs blogger Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker decided to follow the Japanese custom of Hanami & throw her own picnic in the park to celebrate the arrival of trees coming into flower.  

Photography and blog post by Urvashi Roe

With the weather being unusually warm this winter, trees started blossoming as early as February. Spring blossoms almost pass us by without a second thought. This would never happen in Japan. Over there, it is customary to celebrate trees coming into flower and there is even a special word – Hanami. It literally means flower viewing and between March and mid-May, millions of Sakura (cherry blossom) and Ume (plum blossom) can be seen all over the country. 

It is also customary to party and celebrate under the beautiful blooms!  There are ‘Sakura Zensen’ weather forecasts to help people to plan their Hanami parties far in advance.  The parks are packed with revellers who picnic, drink, karaoke and dance.

If you’ve been invited to a Hanami party, it’s customary to take a gift. These vary from delicate individually set cherries in jelly to bread buns with sweet cherry flavoured bean paste centres.

This year there were no Hanami parties near me so as the weather was so sunny and lovely, we decided to have our own Hanami party on the local green.  There is a lovely line of pink flowers in bloom.  I baked this decadent Girotte Clafoutis from Pascal Aussignac to take along.

Urvashi's version of Griotte cherry clafoutis by Pascal Aussignac

It’s a wonderfully rich cake – almost cheesecake like in texture.  I couldn’t get any fresh Girotte (Morello) cherries so simply substituted with a good quality tinned variety.  I used the juice they were preserved in to make a little syrup to drizzle over.  It was the perfect Hanami cake!

If you fancy having your own Hanami party while the blossoms are still out, try these recipes for an oriental themed picnic:

Oriental Coleslaw Salad by Martin Wishart

Crab Cakes by Martin Wishart

Oriental Chicken by Galton Blackiston

Aubergine Salad by Martin Wishart

Blog post for Great British Chefs by Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker

What are your favourite treats & dishes to take along to picnics?   We're discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.


Urvashi Roe

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking & eating a therapeutic relief from her day job in marketing. She also freelances for various publications including lovefood.com & The Foodie Bugle and was a former contestant on BBC2's Great British Bake Off. Fascinated by the nutritional properties of fresh produce she started to share her knowledge on her Botanical Baker blog. As an Indian, she's also passionate about the food of her foremothers & shares the simplicity of this on her Gujerati Girl blog. 

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