Antonio Bizcocho is a tourism technician from the City Council of Coria del Río. Japanese people arrive at his town attracted by the link between this Sevillian town and Japan. Japan and Coria? Yes. This is because in 1614 the samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga came in a ship of foreign name, like the sailor of the Piquer. It was an expedition from the Keicho embassy to establish business relations with Spain. Date Masamune, a nobleman from the city of Sendai, wanted to open new avenues of commerce, so helped by Luis Sotelo, a Franciscan based in Japan, he put Tsunenaga at the forefront of this trip.
It took just over a year to get to Sanlucar de Barrameda (Cádiz) and from there they accessed through the Guadalquivir to Sevillian lands. What did the Franciscan paint in all this? He boarded this ship – literally and metaphorically – to facilitate business with the Spanish Crown and then go to visit the Pope of Rome so that Christianity gained ground in the northern part of Japan and, incidentally, run as bishop of that New diocese
They got an audience with Felipe III to tell him about the trade agreements, but they didn’t get an immediate response because the palace is not your mother’s house and one does not appear there without warning. So the monarch told them that he had to think about it and he would tell them something. Then they went to see the pope to tell him the other thing, to open branches in Japan. The pope listened to them for a while and then rang the bell to bring the snack and accompany the Spaniard with the strange bangs and the Chinese with swords.
With the curriculum cast, samurai and Franciscan returned to Seville to await the call of the king and the pope. But in those meantime, the Government of Japan banned Christianity, so the invention was annoyed and they had to return to Japan. But they didn’t all come back. Some died there and approximately 15 of them decided to stay. The Japanese began to have offspring in Coria and that is the explanation that today about six hundred Corians are surnamed Japan, a last name registered for the first time in a 1642 will.
The creator of Sake of Coria is not called Japan, but it has the commercial and marine vein of the samurai who visited his town. “On the one hand I made the sake to have a representative present of Coria to give to the visitors. Japanese tourists came here and the only thing they could take with them were images of the Virgin of El Rocío. And on the other, I thought about this business to buy me a boat and spend three years traveling in the Mediterranean, but the thing has gotten a little bit, ”Antonio Bizcocho laughs.
To make the sake he teamed up with Enrique Acosta, from Bodegas Sani Primavera, and had to start producing it in a hurry. News began to arrive that a large company that had just arrived in Coria wanted to appropriate the idea of making sake. “We were very urgent to do it and present it and I put a lot of pressure on Enrique. ‘Enrique, we didn’t arrive.’ And he: ‘You’ll have it.’ We had it, we had it because we burst the boiler. We gave him so much cane that it went through the air. And what we could save we made some bottles. That was the fermented sake that I tried to do at the beginning. ”
But it was not good. That sake that pretended to be traditional drank hardly. “90% of people looked at me with the face of ‘but what is this?’ I gave it to a Japanese to try it and he didn’t even hit us, it was all good. And Lali Morán, Enrique’s wife, told us: ‘Impossible, that’s not good, he can’t say he likes it. Take another Japanese that this is not worth. ‘” It was also Morán who encouraged them to make liquor instead of traditional sake because “it will have more output”, and that is how for a little over a year the Keicho sake or Sake de Coria was born, the fusion of a Japanese drink with dessert which is traditionally done in Coria. «There is a lot of Doñana rice here and rice pudding was the dessert that grandmothers made for children, so it is a nice tribute to our Japanese and Spanish roots.»
I ask someone with much more criteria than the Japanese who liked Antonio Bizcocho’s first sake. I give Roger Ortuño Sake of Coria a taste, sake sommelier and Goodwill ambassador of Japanese Gastronomy by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. “Do you wear cinnamon? It’s very good. It looks like a nigorizake, because it’s cloudy. If we speak in Japanese I would say it is a sake. In Spanish it is liquor and it already indicates it very well in the label ”.
The Japanese sake term encompasses any alcoholic beverage from wine, liquor, beer … It is a generic. In Japan they call nihonshu to what we know as sake. “Sake – what we mean by sake – by definition is not a liquor and is not a distillate as would be the case with sochu or whiskey. Nor is sake a liquor because liquor is infused with something. Coria sake is a cream liqueur, as indicated, which is made with sake. I liked it a lot, ”says Ortuño.
The sommelier responsible for the web Eat Japanese likes the taste of this rice sake with milk, but will the Japanese like this mix? “The plate of rice pudding for a Japanese is shocking. As much as for a Latino the anko Japanese, which is the very sweet red bean paste with which Japanese pastry is filled, ”says the expert in gastronomy of Japan. On the other hand, although seeing rice bathed in milk with its sprinkled canelite causes them a lot of desire to do the harakiri, the truth is that the taste of sweet rice is not strange to the Japanese palate, “mochis are made with glutinous rice and this is sweet. So taste is not nonsense. ” In fact, it is proven that it is not, “the Japanese rice pudding as a concept horrifies them, however, they taste my sake and they love it,” says Bizcocho.
In Japan the Keicho sake has had a very good reception. It has been presented at the Tokyo Tourism Fair and is served in some restaurants, although in a few ways. “The problem with the market in Japan is to pass customs. I can’t send bottles by courier, it has to be through importer. The bottles arrive there by the Japanese who work with me and take them for family and some restaurant. ” Despite the difficulty, the effort to enter the Japanese market continues. A Japanese businessman has been interested in Sevillian sake and wants to export it to his country. They have also been sued for yuzu liquor. In addition, Bizcocho and Acosta will expand the business by making other new liquors.
In Spain you can buy Sake de Coria through the Keicho sake website or in almost any store in Coria del Río and surroundings. Eric Gil, director of Eikyô Japanese Influences, has also put it on the shelves of his shop in Barcelona, “he is a cheerful sake, he has the Corian character. In addition, the story behind it is very interesting. ”
Gil also has it available through his website, “Spanish and Japanese take it. To Japanese everything that is Japanese outside of Japan is very funny. The Spaniards take it for the end of the meal, the Japanese don’t know if they have this habit of drinking liquor after eating. ” In fact, that is Roger Ortuño’s suggestion of consumption, “in Japan they don’t have such a drink, but they are playing with fruit liqueurs based on sake, with sparkling wines, with yuzu… In a restaurant menu this sake lo I would put as an appetizer or as a digestive, for the end of the meal ”.
But, although the Corians already drink Sake de Coria «a liter» – as its inventor says -, the most important use of Keicho sake is the gift. Four hundred years ago some Japanese landed in this Sevillian town loaded with porcelains and pieces of art to leave in the town a memory of their passage. Thanks to that visit and the ingenuity of Antonio, Enrique and Lali, today the Corians can give them back the memory of their stay with this salty drink. Do not doubt that if you ever meet a Corian, surely he proudly gives you a bottle of sake from his town.