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Michelin-starred Japanese chef fears loss of simple, traditional food

Stashed in: Japan, culture

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Sad little article about the loss of everyday traditional foods in Japan. This chef is very wise though about not insisting on "perfection" right now, because it will -- especially in Japan! -- lead to a tiny dying "bonsai" of high culture instead of a teeming nursery tree.

Japanese are substituting bread and cheese for miso paste and rice. :(

Household spending on the basic ingredients of Japanese daily food is falling. The purchased amount of miso paste, the main ingredient for miso soup, was down 39 percent last year compared with 1990, while purchases of rice were down 40 percent over the same period, government statistics show.

Sales of bread rose 15 percent over the same period and purchases of cheese rose 67 percent.

Murata believes that the beauty of Japanese cuisine lies not only in "kaiseki", a course of dishes made from seasonal vegetables and fish, but also in more everyday food. Through a Kyoto-based non-profit organization called the Japanese Culinary Academy, Murata visits local elementary schools and lets students taste dashi, or Japanese soup stock, a base for most Japanese dishes, made from dried kelp and dried bonito flakes.

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