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Delicious Nippon

March 7, 2010

The Japanese government currently is promoting the benefits of the Japanese cuisine not only to the Japanese, but also to the rest of the world. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) therefore created a series of videos introducing the elements of Japanese cuisine. The first video is dedicated to the Japanese meal style which is marked by “four distinct seasons” (Japanese never fail to stress that their country is blessed with four distinct seasons…), while the others each feature one group of ingredients (rice, seafood, vegetables, fruits, “gifts from the forest”, Wagyu Japanese beef and Japanese green tea), “which can be obtained in your own country too” 🙂

We get introduced to Judy Ongg, who is “very interested in world cuisine”, and to Naoyuki Yanagihara, who is a cook and “aspires to teach the young generations Japanese culture through cuisine” (this is also part of the “food education basic law” of 2005).  Yanagihara stresses the four distinct seasons again whilst Ongg describes the Japanese cuisine as “sensible and healthy” (whatever a sensible cuisine is…). Additionally, there is an animated character called su-mo and guess what, it’s a sumo-wrestler 🙂

Su-mo provides us with background information such as the history of Japanese food.  He tells us about ichijûsansai (one soup, three vegetables (plus rice)) which is the traditional composition of a Japanese meal. Interestingly, he says, that the three side dishes consist of meat, fish and vegetables but actually eating meat was a taboo according to Buddhism. The Meiji emperor was the first to officially eat meat but meat consumption began to spread throughout the population only after the Second World War. In fact, Japanese cuisine was not that healthy before, so at the time of imperialism the government encouraged the people to eat more meat to build stronger and bigger bodies (and therefore become more comparable to westerners). But never mind…

Next, we see a traditional Japanese house entering the doma (dirt-floor) where we find a pre-modern rice cooker. After showing also the other rooms of the house, Ongg and Yanagihara sit down on tatami in front of to trays with Japanese food. And then we get to know the secret of Japanese cuisine: Fermented food!

Su-mo explains, why fermented food is so important for the Japanese cuisine. It’s because there’s a kind of flavour that is unique to Japanese food which is called umami. Umami is produced by fermentation, found in many soy products and other Japanese ingredients. To show how umami is produced, we get introduced to John O’Connor who visited a soy sauce brewery. But you should look for yourself:

And if you make your own miso soup don’t forget to be gentle to the bonito flakes! Just like you would handle a baby with chopsticks 🙂

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane permalink
    December 26, 2012 09:32

    Any more info on that cutie reporter John O’Connor?

    • franeymoon permalink*
      January 22, 2013 16:36

      I’m sorry I don’t know anything else ^^”

  2. May 10, 2013 07:53

    Thank you for educating us about Japan, Franey 🙂

    • franeymoon permalink*
      May 10, 2013 09:55

      You’re welcome 😉 It’s what I’m best at.

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