Modern Japanese Cuisine - Food, Power and National Identity

Modern Japanese Cuisine - Food, Power and National Identity

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Modern Japanese Cuisine Food, Power and National Identity Katarzyna J. Cwiertka

Modern Japanese Cuisine

Modern Japanese Cuisine Food, Power and National Identity

Katarzyna J. Cwiertka

 

To Piotr and Niek

Published by Reaktion Books Ltd  Great Sutton Street London  ,  www.reaktionbooks.co.uk First published  Copyright © Katarzyna J. Cwiertka,  All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Printed and bound in Great Britain by Cromwell Press, Trowbridge, Wiltshire British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Cwiertka, Katarzyna Joanna, – Modern Japanese cuisine: food, power and national identity . Food habits – Japan . Cookery, Japanese . Japan – Civilization I. Title .’ -:      -:    

Contents

Introduction  1 Western Food, Politics and Fashion  2 The Road to Multicultural Gastronomy  3 Strengthening the Military  4 Reforming Home Meals  5 Wartime Mobilization and Food Rationing  6 The Culinary Consequences of Japanese Imperialism  7 Multiple Circuits of Affluence  Conclusion: The Making of a National Cuisine  Postscript: Japanese Cuisine Goes Global  References  Glossary  Acknowledgements  Photo Acknowledgements  Index 

Introduction

Multiculturalism is the defining feature of the culinary scene in contemporary Japan. It is reflected in the daily food choices of every Japanese. An average day may begin with a Western-style breakfast of toast, coffee and fried eggs, or a Japanese-style breakfast of rice, miso soup, pickles and grilled fish. Lunch may be either a Japanese-style obento¯ (a boxed meal of rice and several small side dishes), prepared at home or purchased at specialized obento¯ kiosks, or a quick bite at one of the ubiquitous fast-food restaurants, noodle shops or an array of other lunch establishments. Many factories and schools operate their own canteens in which indigenous fare prevails, but with strongly pronounced Chinese and Western influences. A dinner may be taken at home or enjoyed in one of many restaurants. In practically every town, a selection of Japanese, Chinese and Korean eating places, along with American restaurant chains such as Skylark and Denny’s – commonly labelled ‘family restaurants’ (famirii resutoran or famiresu for short) – cater to diners of every age, sex and degree of affluence. Moreover, larger urban centres also offer a choice of fancy French and Italian bistros and a variety of ‘ethnic’ (esunikku) eateries that claim to serve food from such exotic places as India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. At home, a Japanese-style dinner centred on white boiled rice accompanied by soup and side dishes, all served at the same time, still prevails. It is, however, by no means free from foreign influences. In , on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of its launch, the leading television cooking show Kyo¯ no ryo¯ri (‘Dishes for Today’) conducted a survey among , of its regular viewers asking them to list their most favourite side dishes appropriate to be served at a Japanese-style dinner. The top ten included (in ascending order) hamburger, fried gyo¯za dumplings, miso soup with to¯fu and seaweed (wakame), soy-stewed chicken with vegetables 

A contemporary home meal.

(Chikuzenni), rice curry, to¯fu and minced meat in spicy sauce (mabo¯do¯fu), Japanese apricot pickle (umeboshi), sugar-simmered black beans (kuromame), home-style sushi (chirashizushi) and, as number one, soy-simmered beef, potatoes and onions (nikujaga). Half of the dishes in this selection are of foreign origin and began to enter Japanese cuisine after the turn of the twentieth century. Other foreign-inspired mainstays in J