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food

Japanese sandwiches give foreign reporters culture shock at Tokyo Olympics

65 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

While traditional Japanese foods like sushi and tempura are well-known around the world, once you get here, you’ll find there’s a wide range of Western foods to tantalise your taste buds as well.

A lot of them are a little different to what you’d find in Western countries, though, with one example being sandwiches, which are sometimes filled with fruit and cream, and other times, packed in bags with their crusts cut off, in what’s known as “lunch packs“.

Visiting media from overseas covering the Tokyo Olympics recently received an introduction to the Japanese lunch pack, after they were offered for free to journalists at the press centre.

▼ This reporter lists the two varieties available: strawberry jam and margarine and peanut cream.

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The lunch packs were initially described as a “culture shock” by a number of journalists, but like many surprising foods in Japan, once people tried the sandwiches they turned out to be a hit, with the Peanut Cream Sandwich in particular earning its fair share of fans.

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Lunch packs come in a huge variety of flavors, covering some rather out-there fillings like ramen and Baskin Robbins ice cream, but it appears that Olympics organizers chose to go with two of their most familiar fillings for visiting foreigners, who were likely trying them for the first time.

▼ Combine these two varieties together and you’ve got yourself a third option: peanut butter and jelly.

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The lunch packs on offer at the press centre are definitely on the sweet side, and according to this Japanese reporter, all the free food options were sweet.

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Unlike sandwiches overseas, which usually come with the crust included, and might contain more wholesome salad-like fillings on wholemeal or multigrain bread, sandwiches in Japan are usually made with soft white milk bread and are often light on ingredients, making them more like a snack than a filling meal.

That doesn’t mean the media has to go hungry while reporting on the Olympics, though, as the lunch packs were one of the free food options on offer, with more substantial meals like bento lunch boxes and ramen on sale at the press center.

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As it turns out, this wasn’t the first time for lunch packs to take centre stage at a big sporting event. Back in 2019, they became something of a “cult classic” amongst international media covering the Rugby World Cup, hosted in Japan that year.

▼ Peanut Butter ‘Cream’ might be as divisive as Marmite, but it won everyone over in the end.

Screen-Shot-2021-07-.png

Given the positive response they received from foreign journalists at the Rugby World Cup, it’s no wonder the lunch packs made a triumphant return for the Olympics this year. And once word got out that foreign reporters had developed a soft spot for the lunch packs at the Olympics, people in Japan were delighted by the news.

“Japanese bread is fluffy and delicious – so glad foreigners like it!”

“Local media has been highlighting all the bad aspects of the Olympics so it’s nice to finally read some good news!”

“These are perfect for photographers and reporters because they’re light and easy to carry for a snack when you’re hungry and don’t have a lot of time.”

“A German friend of mine said they loved the peanut cream too!”

“Lunch packs and convenience stores do more to help Japanese diplomacy than politicians!”

The common love for lunch packs and convenience stores shared by both Japanese and foreigners really has created a bond between locals and visitors from around the world.

Source: Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Canadian reporter’s love for 7-Eleven steals the show at Tokyo Olympics

-- Japan now has ramen sandwiches

-- Will it waffle? We put various Japanese snacks through a waffle iron, just because【SoraKitchen】

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

65 Comments
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“Japanese bread is fluffy and delicious – so glad foreigners like it!” Really? For an Amercian or Asian, maybe.... But for an European? The firts thing I do went I come back in Europe is to buy bread... Cheaper, bigger, healthier A snack for two weeks seam okay but if they lived in Japan, they won't say it's delicious for long Japanese bread is not disgusting but good only for a snack not for a meal

20 ( +22 / -2 )

I wonder what happens to all the crusts?

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine.

Or a New York salt beef sandwich with onion.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I love peanut butter, both commercial and home-made, but that peanut cream is an abomination. It's a hyperprocessed mess of vegetable fat, additives, and a tiny amount of peanuts. Even sweetened peanut butter like Skippy is 95% peanuts.

Of the sandwich pocket things, the egg one isn't too bad. Having them on a regular shelf with other bread and not in the chilled section is suspicious though, and suggests to me that they contain preservatives. Anyone with ten minutes of course can make a way better egg mayo sandwich much cheaper.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

For an Amercian or Asian, maybe.... But for an European? The firts thing I do went I come back in Europe is to buy bread... Cheaper, bigger, healthier

My father always called American breads "air loaf. The bread in Europe is much denser, heavier and more filling. Better tasting too. I had a German toaster for a time (until the electronics failed and no spares available, boo-hiss) and used to laugh how, when it was done toasting, it would launch the slices of bread completely out of the toaster. The spring inside was calibrated for heavier European breads. If you placed the plate just so on the table next to the toaster your bread would land right on the plate, ready for butter and preserves !

8 ( +9 / -1 )

“I wonder what happens to all the crusts?”

Yamazaki is the largest bakery that makes peanut cream sandwiches. They use the crusts to make Rusk with different kinds of flavors. Rusk is very popular in Japan. Smaller bakeries may sell a bag of crusts.. I use to eat them as snacks when I was a kid. My mom used them as panko (bread crumbs) for cooking.

People call bread crusts “Pan no Mimi”; Pan = bread, Mimi = Ear.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The crusts used to be sold in supermarkets at a very low price, bags of 'mimi' or ears!

Very popular with foreigners living in the gaijin houses in the 80s and 90s, for making a cheap lunch or dinner.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Looks very similar to the Yamazaki brand of 'sandwiches'. Absolutely horrendous food. A ton of sugar wrapped in white bread. I'd rather have the bananas.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yes, prefer heavier crusty bread such as sourdough, rye or such. The Japanese large slice white bread is great for occasional sandwiches and munching, not so much for meals. Not a fan of mozzarella cheese on sandwiches, I like a cheese that lets you know its there, something like sharp cheddar or pepper jack.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

just shows how mundane their diets must be for them to be shocked at a sandwich containing peanut cream

5 ( +10 / -5 )

All white bread. No wholewheat ones. I make my own wholewheat bread with added gluten.

Will eat a Conbi sandwich if I'm out and about and hungry.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Huh?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You'll never get curls if you eat these sandwiches.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Cheap and nasty

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japanese bread is fluffy and delicious

Japanese is break is awful. Just awful. That can't even be qualified as bread, this is not bread. This is just an industrial unhealthy weird mixture which happens to taste like it is produced, ... industrial.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine

I can go for that anytime!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Of the sandwich pocket things, the egg one isn't too bad. Having them on a regular shelf with other bread and not in the chilled section is suspicious though, and suggests to me that they contain preservatives. "

Thats a given , tall order to call that thing inside "egg" I,d say.....

Anyone with ten minutes of course can make a way better egg mayo sandwich much cheaper". Absolutely.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They’re not “known as lunch packs”.

ランチパック is a (presumably registered) trade name of Yamazaki Pan.

And they’re revolting….

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sorry! Pepper galore.

Damn predictive text.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

When I’m in NY I buy the salted beef sandwiches and prefer rye if I can find it. Or bagels.

We used to get salt beef on rye sandwiches from an old Jewish deli near Notting Hill Station when we went boozing in the Churchill Arms pub, and cream cheese bagels from a little deli in Dalston market. Magic stuff.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What is a falafel pita sandwich?

It's all explained here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piXcsnA5cJ0

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I doubt Bach is eating these abominations...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They sell these plastic coated nightmares in my local Sunshine, poison the press, at least offer the ham and cheese, or the strange tuna something or another.

What in the banana, hell, let not go their. turn your children away from the TV.

Just built a Olympic quality sandwich from scratch. It is not difficult!!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

just shows how mundane their diets must be for them to be shocked at a sandwich containing peanut cream

Literally the exact opposite of what you think.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ms.K:

Thanks for that information, I’d always wondered what happened to those crusts. I’d prefer to eat them myself, but it’s nice to know they don’t get wasted.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Perhaps the IOCLDPJOC’$ ‘free-labor’ force, those heat -exhausted, overworked, underfed ‘volunteers’, could contribute their 4000 daily uneaten meals to the visiting journalists before ‘the waste’ is reclaimed as ‘animal-food’ or ‘bio-fuel’?

- “Olympic Games organizers admit to wasting about 4,000 boxes of food“ - Jul 29, 2021

“… reclaimed as ‘animal-food’ or ‘bio-fuel’” - Referring to the unused meals, not the journalists.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Talk about something that's gonna leave a bad taste in their mouths...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sounds like someone started happy hour early today but I guess with the SOE, it’s important to get them down before 8? Many Tokyo bars are ignoring the 8 pm finish. Drink more slowly.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

zichiToday 06:25 pm JST

Alfie

Golders Green was always a good place too.

Never really went up that way much at all. I did go to a couple of good pubs in Hampstead, though. Our friends were mainly in the East End like us or Brixton/Streatham area.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Where! In ALL of Japan, can we get a

- “Philadelphia hot pastrami hoagie or a cheesesteak.”

Honestly you won't find it. I suggest you make your own. Get some thinly cut shabu shabu meat, some american or provolone cheese and a good french roll. Cook the meat in lard or a little bit of oil with or without chopped onions, then at the end put the cheese in there and keep heating until the cheese melts. Put the wonder on the french roll and add whatever you like such as lettuce, tomato and mayo, plain is delicious as well.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In all those products on offer, the sugar content is way up there!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine. Or a New York salt beef sandwich with onion."

Nice zichi....getting hungry now.

"The common love for lunch packs and convenience stores shared by both Japanese and foreigners really has created a bond between locals and visitors from around the world. "

Oh, gosh.....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's a simple reason. These are cheapest sandwiches. In Japan, there are many 'real' sandwiches but they're expensive.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It’s incredible how peevish, wound up and hysterical some can get over a story about sandwiches. Mind-boggling.

I hear they sell half-decent and cheap bread at Costco.

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine.

Oh, yes. Minus the lemon for me though. I like a bit of balsamic vinegar.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not too much pepper with the prosciutto.

Nah, poopy galore.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

No. Just no. The last and only time I tried eating one of those things I threw it away after 2 bites, they're so sickly sweet artificial tasting it's unbelievable. Brian Cassella has zero taste.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Speaking of sandwiches, having spent my college years in Philadelphia, you cannot beat a hot pastrami hoagie or a cheesesteak.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Probably better off with the peanut one which at least has some protein. You want to get fat? Eat all carbs for breakfast everyday.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tried to ignore this all day but @Reckless 6:18pm has caused me to ‘fall of the wagon’.

Where! In ALL of Japan, can we get a

- “Philadelphia hot pastrami hoagie or a cheesesteak.”

???

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Alfie

Golders Green was always a good place too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Alfie

sorry, that wasn't meant for you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

BigYen

Tonkatsu is easy to make. Lightly boil a nice pork block. Cut into slides. dip in flour on all sides, dip in raw egg and bread crumbs or panko mixed with basil, spices and parmesan cheese. Fry in a frying pan with olive oil. Nice brown on both sides. Temperature 70 deg C or more.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese bread is fluffy and delicious – so glad foreigners like it!”

Not this foreigner, that's for sure. Kinokunia has decent brown whole-grain sandwich bread. Other than that, proper sandwiches and sandwich bread are near impossible to find in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bacon butty. Chip butty. Both with a nice cup of tea.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The topic is sandwiches, no need to make a meal out of it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hawaiian turkey isn't hard to find. Gobble! Gobble! Didn't know they used tamari, kimchi or green tea. Clever little turkeys. They also seem to like ground beef. But not Japanese curries. I guess this was one turkey that was spared. See eating Japanese foods gives longer life.

Hawaiian and Greek Turkish are notorious for not eating Japanese curries. They also love pastrami and mustard on rye.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

2nd in 2 days where THEY want US aware of ‘how difficult’ it is right now . . . for the media.

- “Foreign journalists putting up with Tokyo Olympic COVID-19 rules“ - Jul 29, 2021

Please think of them, perhaps to the tune of Sarah McLachlan’s “in the arms of an ‘Angel’ .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Another sandwich favourite is falafel and humus in pita bread.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Reuben. Anyone who had to eat food rations from the war hates corned beef.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Alfie

East End is good too. Use to go there for the real curries “hole-in-the-wall. (Private house). Brixton was good as well.

What is a falafel pita sandwich?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Surely a nice tonkatsu sandwich would have been the thing to go for? I miss those, confined here to Australia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Agreed, Zichi. Turkey is another must. Tomatoes, lettuce, real cheese . . .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hawaiian turkey isn't hard to find. Gobble! Gobble! Didn't know they used tamari, kimchi or green tea. Clever little turkeys. They also seem to like ground beef. But not Japanese curries. I guess this was one turkey that was spared. See eating Japanese foods gives longer life.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichiToday  09:04 am JST

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine.

Or a New York salt beef sandwich with onion.

Not too much pepper with the prosciutto.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

JimizoToday  05:10 pm JST

Sorry! Pepper galore.

Damn predictive text.

Yeah, I was wondering about your first post. Was reconsidering to eat pepper ever again.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

snowymountianhell

there are places in Tokyo selling pastrami. Google it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Smoked salmon should be on any sandwich menu.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Peanut butter sandwiches are used in USA, for kids!

All the reporters will lose a lot of weight just living on these.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

People want attention for complaining about free food? Oh my heart bleeds...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I don't like Japanese curry prefer Indian and Thai. 

Is it surprising that none of these foods in this article have a market beyond Japan?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Turkey is hard to find in Japan.

Tamari is better in taste. I eat kimchi every day and drink green tea too.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

zichiToday  09:04 am JST

Italian sandwich with Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, slices of tomatoes, lemon and pepper. Chilled white wine.

Or a New York salt beef sandwich with onion.

Good to know you like this Jewish speciality. I had one in NY a few weeks ago--thank you Carnegie Deli.

But do you eat that with white bread or whole wheat bread because:

zichiToday  08:50 am JST

All white bread. No wholewheat ones. I make my own wholewheat bread with added gluten.

Will eat a Conbi sandwich if I'm out and about and hungry.

And no offense, but at 69, or 70 (which is it??) I would take it easy on the cured meats in a Reuben, and the chemicals in any conbini sandwich.

July 22  03:03 pm JSTPosted in: Why some seniors fly into a rage at convenience stores and hospitals  See in context

I am 69

and polite and grateful to all those who serve me. Cashiers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, waitresses, barmen.

BTW--you were 70 on July 18, but 69 on July 22. Old age I guess!

July 18  12:51 pm JST

Posted in: Once rivals, Biden and Sanders are now partners in power  See in context

At 70,

I'm a big supporter of denture socialism and even Universal Healthcare.

You do seem to take proper care of your food though:

July 27  06:15 pm JST

Posted in: How to avoid food-borne illness  See in context

Foods needed to be correctly reheated, especially meats like chicken and pork. Meats also need proper temperature cooking. I use a meat thermometer for that.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

In Kansai, you can buy 100% ground beef. Always buy several packets when I see them

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

JimizoToday  04:45 pm JST

It’s incredible how peevish, wound up and hysterical some can get over a story about sandwiches. Mind-boggling.

I read all the posts here---which post(s) are you talking about? Late in the day and want some minor amusement.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

zichiToday  05:59 pm JST

Another sandwich favourite is falafel and humus in pita bread.

I just can't do the humus or falafel in a sandwich.

And moving on from the reuben---when I was younger, pita bread used to be called Syrian bread.

All time fave though has to be pastrami and mustard on rye. Close cousin of the reuben.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

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