food

The secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

38 Comments
By Casey Baseel

Traditions are taken very seriously in Japan, and one of the most noticeable examples is Japanese food. Certain foods and seasonings are always paired together, and while it may be tempting to dismiss this as just another example of the cultural homogeneity of an island nation, in several cases there are legitimate health benefits to these standard combinations.

Following are 10 culinary collaborations that won’t just fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, but leave you a little healthier, too.

Sushi and wasabi

Let’s start with one of the most iconic teams in Japanese cuisine, sushi and the fiery paste that is wasabi.

Ordinarily, diners get a double punch of wasabi with each piece of sushi, as a dab of the condiment is placed in the rice, which is then dipped into a mixture of soy sauce blended with yet another dollop of wasabi. Although purists can’t imagine eating raw fish without it, some more casual sushi fans can’t handle the heat, and ask the chef to make their orders sabi nuki, or without wasabi.

But you’re actually missing out on a number of benefits if you’re passing on the wasabi, which helps to soften the smell of the fish, as well as drawing out more of its flavor. More importantly, wasabi is effective in suppressing microbes and bacteria that can cause food poisoning. So if you’re worried about eating your food raw, bear with the spiciness of the wasabi. It’s got a job to do.

Miso soup and seaweed

Almost as ubiquitous as sushi and wasabi is the combination of miso soup with seaweed. Given its flimsy texture and near total lack of flavor, you’d be forgiven for assuming the seaweed isn’t there for anything other than aesthetic purposes.

It turns out, though, that seaweed helps compensate for one of the only health drawbacks to miso soup: its high sodium content. Nutrients in seaweed help to reduce both blood pressure and sodium levels in the body.

Rice balls and laver

While we’re on the subject of plants from the ocean, what about the type of seaweed called laver that’s used to wrap onigiri, or rice balls?

At first this seems like something done strictly for the sake of convenience. You eat onigiri with your hands ("nigiru" is the Japanese word for “grab”), so if you don’t want to get rice all over them, you need some kind of covering. Onigiri predate plastic though, and the rice would stick to paper, depriving you of a few morsels when you unwrapped one. A thin strip of dried laver just seems like a natural, edible solution.

While that’s true, the laver also provides a huge nutritional benefit. Rice balls, by their nature, are almost entirely carbohydrates. In order to convert those carbs into energy, the body needs vitamin B, which laver is packed with. Conveniently, the quantity of vitamins in the B group necessary for one onigiri’s worth of carbohydrates is almost exactly equal to that contained in the amount of laver it takes to wrap one.

Raw tuna and yam

Seafood makes up a large part of the Japanese diet, with tuna being one of the nation’s favorite fish. Raw tuna is often served with grated yam, which adds a little variety to its visual presentation (and also makes for a more economical meal than trying to fill up completely on pricey sashimi-grade fish).

The stickiness of Japanese yam takes some getting used to, and not even everyone born and raised in the country cares for it. The reason for its polarizing texture, though is the protein mucin, which helps the body to absorb the other proteins which tuna is rich in.

Saury and grated daikon radish

Saury is another commonly eaten saltwater fish in Japan, which is almost always accompanied by grated daikon radish.

The saury is a small, slender fish, and since it’s usually grilled, you tend to end up with a lot of char on the skin. In general, the skin of fish are eaten in Japan, both for their flavor and their nutrients. However, that char isn’t exactly the healthiest thing, as it contains carcinogens. The grated daikon, usually mixed with a bit of soy sauce, helps to purge those carcinogens from the body.

Tofu and bonito flakes

Saury and grated daikon is a decidedly old-school combo. They often appear as part of a traditional Japanese meal that involves several side dishes, one of which is likely to be tofu topped with bonito flakes.

Like the laver in miso soup, this again seems like a cosmetic choice at first. But while tofu has a plethora of amino acids, one that it’s decidedly lacking in is methionine. Methionine is essential for maintaining hair color as you age, as well as numerous other things we’re too vain and unintelligent to understand or care about. Thankfully, dried bonito is packed with the stuff, making it the prefect finishing touch for this amino acid cocktail.

Freshwater eel and sansho

All of this talk of dainty health foods is making us hungry, so let’s move on to heartier fare, like unagi, or freshwater eel.

Unagi is usually butterflied, slathered with sauce, grilled, then topped with a dash of the slightly bitter, pepper-like powdered seasoning sansho. Aside from giving the unagi a little color, sansho helps cut down on the eel’s smell, and the condiment is also said to warm the digestive organs and help in breaking down the oils of the unagi, both of which aid in digestion.

Pork cutlet and cabbage

But if you’re really hungry, nothing will fill you up quite like tonkatsu, or pork cutlet. Tonkatsu always comes with a pile of shredded cabbage.

Once again, though, the cabbage has a vital role to play. The vegetable is rich in vitamin U (something we honestly didn’t know existed), which helps prevent gastric hyperacidity. In other words, that cabbage will keep you from getting a tummyache. There are limits to what even cabbage can do, though, so don’t assume you can chow down on a second cutlet with no ill effects as long as you finish the cabbage served with it.

Pork curry and pickled shallots

Still hungry? Then how about some curry. At just about any curry restaurant in Japan, you’ll find a jar of pickled shallots on the table, from which diners can take as much as they want. On the surface, this may seem like some ill-thought out method to improve your breath, reasoning that the combined negative effects of curry, onions, and the pickling process will somehow wrap the scale back around and make your breath smell fresh and clean again.

The bad news is that no matter how many pickled shallots (called "rakkyo" in Japanese) you put away, you’re still going to need a breath mint or four. The good news is that those shallots have plenty of allysine, an amino acid that promotes absorption of the vitamin B1 in pork.

Beer and edamame

Last, and by no means least, one of our favorite pairings in Japan: ice-cold beer and a bowl of edamame, or soybeans.

Edamame are lightly salted and served in the shell. Aside from the fun of popping them directly into your mouth, they’re a much lower calorie beer companion than peanuts or potato chips. Best of all, edamame contain methionine, like the bonito flakes mentioned above, plus vitamins B1 and C, which together help the liver in processing alcohol.

Of course, you could sidestep the whole problem of having to process alcohol by simply not consuming it in the first place. You could easily make the argument that pairing edamame with beer isn’t any better than edamame and tea, or edamame and juice.

Source: Naver Matome

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Mos Burger Lets You Eat Tempura and Rice with One Hand -- A teaspoon of wasabi a day helps keep old age at bay -- Enjoy Kyoto (Part 3) — The ultimate breakfast?

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38 Comments
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Nessie

Mostly none starchy plants. And seafood...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the down side, when the kids go off to college, from my observations, they can't cook mom's "delicious" meals and seem to only eat sweet bread or noodles most of the time, and that's if they ever eat at all. One student last week was late for an afternoon class and hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch.

They had a Macdonalds on campus 4 years ago which was always packed. Granted, it's not very healthy, but the only choice for these kids now is the same olsame ol.

And while we`re here. Can we dispel with this BS that Japan is not a "sandwich" country! Even though they are a HUGE ripoff, they do sell out at the convenience stores and Subway is always packed at lunch time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

More importantly, wasabi is effective in suppressing microbes and bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Can we stop with the voodoo science on JT, please? This is the classic example of "if it kills X in a Petri dish, it must kill X in the human digestive tract." Codswallop. Ditto for the Ayurvedic nonsense. Eat a variety of foods, mostly plants, full stop.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

That was a good read. But I agree with Maria, I never heard of wasabi used to 'soften' the smell of fish. I thought good, fresh fish should be void of any 'fishy' smell.

@cos

Lazy urban singles, they can put a lot of money in eating basic meals or junk in shops everyday. I don't see how that saves one minute and one yen, compared to having rice, natto, egg, miso soup, a few veggies/tsukemono/seaweed at home (cost 100 yen, effort 20 seconds)

100 yen and 20 seconds for all of that? Wow, I'd love to visit your version of Japan. I agree that you can get delicious & healthy food for a decent price, but no need to exaggerate just to prove a point; it makes your argument weak.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Just 'cause there is a 'system' does not make it science.

I have written "sciences". Anyway, there are many definition, like sciences, the definition of science gets outdated regularly. Wiki's good compromise : "Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. ".

your own facts

That's not my fact that traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and other scientific-or-not systems have existed for thousands of years. And they have influenced diet habits and originated most pairings. Japan prior Meiji Era used exclusively the Chinese medical system.

You can eat whatever you wish,

Not the point. My perspective is historic.

that has no scientific basis.

No, it was 100% scientific at the base. Prior the recuperation by countless new age crooks, that idea was a version of a classic Japanese diet, optimized by doctors trained in both Eastern and Western science of 19th century. A research and experiment to eat optimally based on the scientific basis, facts and hypothesis they tested. They had the merit of explaining all the logic of meal composition. Surely, over 100 years, parts of the science of then has been proven right (and incorporated in modern science), others parts wrong. Among the proven right : the acid / alkaline property of food. anti-oxidant properties of spices, sodium/potassium balance, inflammatory foods, properties of living food (lactofermentation.probiotics), properties of cruciferous, absorption of iron favored or stopped according to food combination.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

wow so many bitter comments its just freakin food ppl OF couse no one said Japanese ppl knew of these pairings benefits when the food was created people use what they have at the timebut its great that it exists ne? so stop being so bitter and enjoy the D sushi alreadyand another thing who cares what Japanese people actually eat regularly if they did an article like this for America I just hope Mac aint on the list

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Cos

You believe or not, but that's considered as a scientific system

Just 'cause there is a 'system' does not make it science. Macrobiotics is not a science; it is a dietary regimen that has no scientific basis.

You can eat whatever you wish, and however you wish. You can pair things any which way you wish. You are entitled to your own opinions.

But not your own facts.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Great article JT.

Never knew about mucin or methionine or vitamin U or allysine.

I think Japanese is the only cuisine that I could eat every day without getting bored. Other cuisines are nice once a week of once a month but imagine eating Thai, Chinese, Indian, American (!), Australian (!) or French every day. Japanese cuisine has the range the others don't. The Japanese obsession with perfection makes eating in Japan a joy every day.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Very interesting article Cos thank you.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

the fiery paste that is wasabi.

But it's often horseradish. In my old place too (and all Northern Europe I guess) we serve it with raw fish. The article could have been less superficial and talked about dietetic and "food sciences" (even if not so scientific with what we know now) that suggested pairings. It's interesting that both Asia and Europe had medicinal theories of hot/cold foods and a quest for balance, matching seasons. Well, before I get outed, yes, I'm into macrobiotic, ayurvedic, medieval cuisine and such. The pairings are usually part of some wider diet criteria.

I can't see that any of these pairings were decided on the basis of nutritional value

They were Maria. Yin food (raw veggie) to balance yang food (roast meat). Etc. You believe or not, but that's considered as a scientific system, from Antiquity. And that's rarely limited to one dish, you build on the whole meal. Macrobiotic gives you a ratio, % of grain, % raw veggies, % beans... And the ratio is adapted to season and your age/condition/activity. And you match the meals over the week. Some people were, and still are, experts that prescribe, They give easy tips to general population. My grandma had an almanach, and memorized, like sayings : "dry pulses, 3 times a week", "fish on Friday"... and always served a veggie soup, a salad. The Japanese grandma had very similar ones, with meals having to be completed by a miso soup, ippin of tsukemono, ippon of green leaf veggies....

. As for daikon getting rid of carcinogens?

Weird to word it that way, but long story short : YES. . Daikon, like many root veggies, has a purification effect, that helps eliminate toxins and dissolves fats more easily during digestion. Hence, grated daikon with tempura, fatty foods... Accumulation of toxins being a likely cause of cancer... the writer took the short cut. The root veggie effect has been confirmed by recent science. You're not supposed to eat the fish charred, grilled is already "bad enough". I won't redo this article. They are many others better written all over.

Hokkaido ramen is pretty much the same as Kagoshima ramen,

I agree that there is a lot of marketing playing on pseudo local tradition (only in Japan ?) , but... If I understand there would be only one sort of Japanese noodles that is presented as straight ramen, curled ramen, egg ramen, yama-imo soba, juwari soba, cha soba, sobagaki, udon, kyo-udon, sara udon, agesoba, harusame, kishimen, somen... and the broth/sauce has just different names be it torigara, kamo, tonsoku, kombu iwashi, shoyu, shio, miso, kasujiru, tongarashi miso, dashi, kare, ankake... They are all the same as your usual nisshin instant. Is it even different from mac'and cheese and those canned bagel shaped bolognese spaghetti for you ? Just trying to get how you see the world, living with one unique tastebud.

the choice is pretty limited and uniform in tastes and varieties.

You come from where ?

enough time and money

Yep, investing in a rice cooker. And the time to switch it on...

My best friend's idea of breakfast is stopping at Misdo's on her walk to the station

She loves junk and she has money to spend on it. Lazy urban singles, they can put a lot of money in eating basic meals or junk in shops everyday. I don't see how that saves one minute and one yen, compared to having rice, natto, egg, miso soup, a few veggies/tsukemono/seaweed at home (cost 100 yen, effort 20 seconds) and I'm just giving one example at reach of any Japanese without any time, money, cooking skills and most have grown up with that breakfast pattern Idem for the other examples. It's proven that people that eat macdo on a regular basis have higher food budgets than any others. They simply get the worst quality per money available on the planet. If that's what they want, good for them. You're doing the complaining in their name it seems.

it isn't going to change until it becomes cheaper to eat at home, than pop down 7-11,

You think it's not cheaper to eat at home because, yourself you don't know how to peel a banana. It's 600 yen/person at macdo or for one kombini-bento. You can also walk into a supermarket and get 500 yen of sashimi for 2, add 100 yen of rice/miso soup/tsukemono/wasabi you have at home and you get a sushi meal. And MOST people in Osaka do that, for most of their meals. And many are more savvy, they get rice in bulk, a cheaper whole fish they cut and share with family, make their umeboshi and miso, they go to get produce from farms (my neighbors they are construction workers, they dry their daikons and kakis at the window right now). And people eat the dishes discussed in this post. That's not about wedding banket food as you suggest.

like most other countries, food quality often has to take a back seat to convenience and price.

No. That's not the same everywhere. Several regions of Japan (not all), have thousands of original cuisines and an incredible refinement, and it's inclusion in the traditional food science of China-Korea. And no, not all countries have had some historic elaborated food sciences. Whatever the choice they make, 95% of Japanese have access to an incredible choice, for any budget at this point. That may change, Prices could rise. But for your 500 yen coin, you can still get a serving of food considered luxuries in the past and some places like meat, seafood, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, year round. I don't say you get caviar, Kobe beef, kaiseki, but a good choice of many others... And yes, most Japanese can cook a rotation of decent meals with local ingredients. And yes, most Brits can't boil water even to save their life (dixit Jamie Oliver, and he knows his folks).

from Fiji ...........????????

Yes, Dog, it's inhabited there. As you can see some people come from Byzantium and they've eaten of everything, and others from small countries, islands, regions away from big cultural centers, with a limited number of local produce, really little possible food diversity.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

I thought the nutritional information was very interesting, and worth considering when rejecting a food (not a fan of cabbage, daikon or yam, myself.. but if a wee sppoonful helps then why not?)

I was most entertained by the reasoning for wasabi and sansho - to kill the smell and bacteria? Fresh fish shouldn't smell; and if the fish contains microbes and bacteria, I suspect it'd take a lot more than a wee bit of wasabi to kill them. As for daikon getting rid of carcinogens? Umm... the article was curiously short of reasons there, so I'll skip the burnt fish, cheers.

I can't see that any of these pairings were decided on the basis of nutritional value; more likely connected to texture and flavour - food A cuts the oiliness of food B, for example.

Still, worth reading again.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My favorite Japanese food paring is a bowl of soba at a Tachigui place and a couple of inari-san. It got so bad that as soon as I turned around from putting my money into the ticket machine, the cook would have my meal ready for me.

My next favorite is a bowl of Ramen with a side of Gyoza at this place in one of the warrens in Shinjuku. The place ain't pretty, but the pairing there works pretty good and the price is right.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well said, Ozymandias

The biggest Japanese food pairing is sugar and salt. Followed perhaps by fat and MSG.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I agree with the above posters who tire of the obsession hereabouts with pretending Japan is the only place in the world with a unique food culture.

Most places - particularly those without functioning trade routes - will learn to make the best of what they've got.

In a lot of Japanese food, try as they might, there is blandness. It's often ameliorated with sugar (vulgar barbarian innovation), salt, or soy sauce (liquid salt). There is also wasabi, which mysteriously escapes the blanket ban of "We Japanese do not like spicy tastes". But these food pairings exist to make the food taste of something worth eating.

No matter how many times you see it on TV - and you will see it on TV a lot - no Japanese food ever tastes so good that it will cause you to bellow "oishii" and clap your hands, unless you are contractually obliged to do so.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Ordinarily, diners get a double punch of wasabi with each piece of sushi, as a dab of the condiment is placed in the rice, which is then dipped into a mixture of soy sauce blended with yet another dollop

Wasabi and soy sauce is for sashimi, not sushi, and many think that mixing the too (rather than balancing a small lump of wasabi on the rim of the dipping dish, is for plebs.

wasabi, which helps to soften the smell of the fish, as well as drawing out more of its flavor

Really?

also makes for a more economical meal than trying to fill up completely on pricey sashimi-grade fish

The rice is for "filling up"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm guessing some food group consortium paid JT to post this, instead of the other way around.

I'm also guessing this post will be deleted.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love japanese cuisine (and italian, thai, spanish, greek etc) and have been cooking/eating it for nearly 30years.

A few question marks re the article.

Wasabi draws out the flavour of sashimi - really??? And a double dose draws out double???

Seaweed and it's near total lack of flavour - really??? (authors cook often?)

Laver(nori) in miso soup - not common. How about konbu or wakame

Bonito flakes on tofu - for the obvious reason - it packs a power punch of flavour for the subtle/bland taste of tofu

Pickled shallots and pork - vinegar(ed) dishes always good to cut the fat esp pork - many cuisines do this

Next people will be saying things like the Japanese invented umami.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One of the reasons I try my hardest to avoid drinking with coworkers is to preserve my free time and to avoid conversations about work and food. The latter topic is generally dull in conversation and in written articles. The above article is a shining example. After 14 years here I'm sick and tired of hearing about 'unique' cuisine, regional variations and this article is just a variation on another yawnfest about harmony of ingredients. Yes, Japanese food is good. I get that.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"Vitamin U is not actually a vitamin, but is instead a term used to refer to a substance called S-Methylmethionine. It's found in several different types of food and is used as a naturopathic supplement to treat a variety of health problems. "

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No mater the pairing...all Japanese food goes great with beer.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I will never understand how anyone can think not cooking a fish and adding wasabi to it makes it a unique gastronomic delight. It is just chest-beating. The food here is bland and anyone who thinks this cuisine is #1 must have never eaten anything from China, India, Italy, France, Thailand etc.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

southsakai: Japanese food is #1 without any single bit of doubt.

When making opinion-based statements you might want to consider qualifiers such as "in my opinion" or "I feel". You can only say that a food is #1 to you. You can't assert that it is #1 for anyone and everyone. To me Japanese food is far from #1. It's beautiful, it can be refreshing and I like it from time to time but it certainly isn't my favorite and it's as ridiculous for someone to try and convince me otherwise as it is for them to try and convince me what my favorite color should be. It's not a contest.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Thanks JT for an informative and nicely written article. Learned a lot, but still have to look up "vitamin U". These combinations are right there and everywhere in Japan waiting for people once they get tired of fast food. Lots of these combos are in department stores and other quick-pick-up spots. Another great point about living in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

southsakaiNov. 16, 2013 - 11:34AM JST

Lol I'm Indian and I was eating that type of food every other day of the week.

southsakaiOct. 15, 2013 - 05:22PM JST

Because I come from Fiji ...........

????????

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Mmm, this article has made me so hungry! It's hard to beat some good salmon nigiri.

Why so many negative comments? Yes, a lot of countries do have delicious food combinations, and Japan is one of them. That's why this article is on JAPANToday, to talk about JAPAN's good food pairings.

@JTDanMan

Perhaps that is true where you live. I lived in Kansai - Osaka and Kobe. The wife is from Kyoto. People eat well in Kansai.

That's true for those who are fortunate enough to have enough time and money to put together a good meal or eat out at a nice place. But unfortunately that's not the same for everyone. I, too, live in Kyoto, but I don't see any difference between here and elsewhere. Many of my friends who work in construction live on a diet of food from Sunkus and Yoshinoya. My hardworking neighbor feeds her kids McDonald's and Kenta for dinner a few nights a week. My best friend's idea of breakfast is stopping at Misdo's on her walk to the station. I understand where you're coming from, but Dog has a point when she/he says most people don't eat the food you're talking about. Japan, of course, has outrageously delicious food, but just like most other countries, food quality often has to take a back seat to convenience and price.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japanese food is #1 without any single bit of doubt. Too many variations and pairings from Island to Island, prefecture to prefecture, town to town. Every place you step, you get something different and unique. If you think this is not true, then you're certainly not getting out and about.

People who call Japanese food bland is laughable. Chicken vindaloo anyday ?

Lol I'm Indian and I was eating that type of food every other day of the week. I lived in Australia with Greeks and Italians. Loved their food when I was with them. And they laughed at Australian / British food. ~ meat pie and some bread rolls. Fish n chips thanks!

The Japanese chefs put all their heart and soul into the dish. Satisfying the palate seems to be their primary goal in life.

Mediterranean cuisine, Indian cuisine, South east Asian cuisine, French cuisine and food from European Nordic countries are the best in the world. Japanese food is definitely unique and special and part of the best of the best without any doubt

World of meat pies, hamburgers and fish n chips have a long way to go. Although I get my Mos burger once a week :)

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Like I said, the food nationalism here is silly and sad.

As for when one actually tastes the food, two things seem apparent. First, we've had very different experiences in japan. Fair enough.

As for taste, it really is a matter of taste. Many people think all red wine tastes the same. They do, if you don't drink wine that much. Rice grown in different regions is different. The northern areas of tohoku didn't grow rice until they bred cold resistant strains in the mid tokugawa. And different kinds of short grain rice tastes different to me. I eat the stuff every day.

But, like I said, taste is a matter of taste. I find Japanese food unsurpassed, just as I find the various foods of India delicious -- though I must admit I do not know it as well.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

All readers back on topic please, which is food pairings in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JTDanManNov. 16, 2013 - 10:18AM JST

You may like to know, Japanese have been food obsessed for over half a century. Sources going back to the Kamakura period attest to the fine distinctions they were making between this valley's umeboshi and that valley's umeboshi.

That aspect so bores me and seems to be a figment of their imagination, when one actually tastes the food.

It has more to do with advertising and selling, than reality.

Hokkaido ramen is pretty much the same as Kagoshima ramen, when it comes down it and no matter how much the Japanese 'creme' themselves with their regional food variations, the choice is pretty limited and uniform in tastes and varieties.

While regional variations in Thai and Indian foods, for example, now that is an exercise in food variations.

I once had to proof read a Japanese woman's MA dissertation which argued that Japan wasn't an homogenous society. Her whole dissertation was based on the argument around the different varieties of Japanese rice grown and eaten in Japan.

She now teaches at a Japanese university.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Jeff

You got that right.

Dog

You may like to know, Japanese have been food obsessed for over half a century. Sources going back to the Kamakura period attest to the fine distinctions they were making between this valley's umeboshi and that valley's umeboshi.

Obsession with detail and minutia has long been a character of the 'cultured elite" in Japan. And its bled down.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I like how the Thais do really simple pairings that are ingenious. Like squeezing a bit of fresh lime juice on watermelon. Or turning plain old fried chicken into an exotic treat with a few sprigs of coriander and tiny slices of fresh chili.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Perhaps that is true where you live. I lived in Kansai - Osaka and Kobe. The wife is from Kyoto.

People eat well in Kansai. Even the working class love them their food. I mean, Christ, there fast food is good. And I dont mean Moss Burger and the Yosh. I mean ramen, all those lunch bentos on the streets.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

JTDanManNov. 16, 2013 - 09:57AM JST

I love both Japanese cuisine and the obsession with food most Japanese have. I think the quality, dedication and appreciation of food is unparalleled. (Which is not to say the best, just none better).

I find it really sad and is so symptomatic of how vacuous Japanese society has become, mere circus and cake.

Besides most Japanese eat, on a daily basis, in Yoshinoya, CoCo Curry and feed their kids on bento's bought at Hoto Moto.

I hardly call this place a spiritual citidel to the glory of food and it isn't going to change until it becomes cheaper to eat at home, than pop down 7-11, or that the Japanese, the choice of a 1000 different pot noodles aside, have real choice in the foodstuffs they can buy in the local Seiyu.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Dog, Ambrosia

Don't get me wrong, I must admit I am a foodie. I love both Japanese cuisine and the obsession with food most Japanese have. I think the quality, dedication and appreciation of food is unparalleled. (Which is not to say the best, just none better).

Its just, as you both point out, the food nationalism part of it. I suppose it may go with the territory, just like with the French and Italians, but, yeah, you can have a top quality cuisine without being stuck up about it.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

JTDanMan: Double ditto. It's more tiresome, nationalist, chest beating. Face it, like them or not, the cuisines of every country in the world developed by people pairing up what was available to them be it beans and rice, okra and yams, potatoes and beef, etc. Japanese cuisine isn't unique in that respect.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

JTDanManNov. 16, 2013 - 08:04AM JST

I hate this kind of nonsense.

Ditto.

One of the best PR operations in the world has been the Japanese selling their bland cuisine as something more than a legacy of an isolated impoverished people who tried to exploit their limited food resources available to them to the best of their abilities.

Why the British haven't done the same, the amazing British pairings of fish and chips / roast beef and yorkshire pudding, says more about the perspective the British have of themselves in the real world order of foods.... 'I like British food, but it ain't anything special, give me a chicken vindaloo any day of the week'.

The Japanese really have to get other themselves and the small minority of non-Japanese who pamper to the Japanese myopic narcissism, have to desist.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Rubbish. Are we honestly to believe that all these supposed health benefits from traditional parings that predate the rail road were magically discovered by the power of Wa?

I hate this kind of nonsense. I doubly hate this kind of nonsense when married with nihonjinron.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Yep, tasty. Don't know about healthy by the amount one eats in every sitting, but definitely tasty!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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