About the food of Japan

Hikone Castle. Photo by Jnn

Have you ever noticed how big Japan is? The upper half of Japan has as many cold snowy days as the lower half has hot tropical days. From top to bottom, she’s long, lean and filled to the brim with glorious food.

That being said, I’m focusing in. Getting in the zone. Talking about just a couple of  Japanese dishes that make me sit back in awe.

Because, there’s no denying it. Japan has some of the prettiest food around.

And for good reason: Japanese food is art.

Yamagata. Photo by Toto; Kabira Bay, Photo by Highland. Tottori Sand Dunes. Photo by Geofrog; Mount Yari. Photo by Alpsdake.

Just take sushi [Recipe], for example. The Japanese have long enjoyed this traditional – yet meticulous – preparation of rolled vinegar rice  [Recipe], vegetables and raw fish. While it’s roots trace back indefinitely, the form of sushi we know and love today was developed in the 1800’s by Hanaya Yohei as a convenience food. Even still, each sushi roll is artfully arranged – a mosaic of ingredients. One bite and you’ll get just enough of everything – a balanced experience all around.

Then there’s Bento  [Recipe], or the artful arrangement of food in compartmentalized boxes for convenient and portioned out lunches. Bento has been happening since the 12th century, gradually evolving into the cute-fest we see today. From bentos for adults – simple protein, vegetable, rice, and sweet – to bentos for kids – loaded up with faces cut into eggs, rice made into bears, etc – there’s something for all personalities.

For dessert, there’s a number of notable treats. Most people have heard of green tea ice cream, but there is also ice cream wrapped in mochi, or glutinous rice pounded into a dough. But what really gets me excited are the strange textures that you can find in Japanese desserts and drinks. For example, I just learned about kōhii zerii, or coffee jello. While coffee jello is not that unusual by itself, it’s what they do with it that really makes it special…. The Japanese love to mix coffee jello with drinks – such as evaporated or condensed milks [Recipe], iced coffee, milkshakes, or even piled onto an ice cream sundae. The concept is at once stunning and a delight texturally.

Yosuien, Wakayama, Wakayama prefecture, Japan. Photo by Highland

So those are my highlights.

What about you? What are your favorite Japanese foods?


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