The Japanese Diet. As if there is one diet. Well, they call the parliament there the Diet, but is that really what we mean?
Sure, the older generation in the rural and small town areas of Japan used to thrive on local vegetables, kelp, fish, shellfish, seasonal fruits, noodles, and rice. But as far back as the Taisho period (starting in 1879, ending in 1926), the city folk have enjoyed all the of the above, but sought to add Chinese and western components to the diet.
These days more people in Japan, under the age of forty, eat more potatoes than rice, drink more wine and hard liquor than sake, eat more pizza and pasta and processed food than eel or sushi. Processed food is what is commonplace is most homes.
There’s a romantic view of Japan held by many unfamiliar with its shifts, and the sense by some outsiders writing about the food there is comparable to goofballs going to India in search of enlightenment when the Indians dream instead of engineering models and biochemistry.
I’m not saying there isn’t beautiful food: Ishikawa holds bounty, Tokyo startles with tastes, Kyoto is a delicious city, Hokkaido marvels, etc.
I still cook soba, love yakitori, crave raw fish, and carry home with me a pound of rice and powdery, numbing Japanese pepper, but the world is changing…