I was in Tokyo during New Year’s holidays because some of my family lives there. I had an opportunity to eat something strange then. Look at this photo. I was really surprised at the shape of the red things at first.
This worm shaped thing is the root of Chinese artichoke and called chorogi in Japanese. Chinese artichoke is a plant of the family of Lamiaceae in which mint and basil are included. In Japan people usually don’t eat the leaves, just eat the roots.
I can hardly get the herb in Nagoya, where I live. I’ve heard that you can buy ones in the mountains. In Tokyo you may be able to get some because it is the center of Japan. But chorogi (Chinese artichokes’s roots) are usually eaten with black soy beans only during New Year’s holidays in Japan. The cooking is one of Osechi, which means traditional Japanese New Year’s foods.
Each Osechi food has a special meaning. The black soy beans with chorogi are eaten for wishing for your health.
Chorogi seems to be eaten in France as well. I’d like to try some French cuisines with chorogi someday.