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Posts Tagged ‘food’

A Bento is Not As Big As the World

Reblogged from I’ll Make It Myself!

In the lead-in to Carlsen’s and Turner’s “In Japan, Food Can Be Almost Too Cute To Eat,” there is a slideshow showcasing the cuter side of Japanese food: tofu character goods, a kyaraben (character bento), and images of Anpanman in cartoon and pancake form. The authors mention that food presentation is part of the culture of cute, but instead of an obsession with food presentation dictating the creation of characters and mascots like Anpanman, I would actually say that Japan’s love of cute things dictates the creation of anthropomorphized food. I don’t just mean in terms of kyaraben, I mean that the regular onions I buy at the grocery store have an anthropomorphized onion on the bag. So do my eringi mushrooms. So do my tomatoes. Visual presentation of food is definitely a part of Japanese food culture, and creating a cute obento for a child to eat is part of that culture, but the food presentation didn’t create the characters necessarily.

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“Deeply Ingrained Advantages”: American Media Discovers Kyûshoku

Reblogged from I’ll Make It Myself:

Can Japan solve America’s food identity crisis? Japan’s relatively low rates of obesity have caught the eye of the American news media, particularly in light of our own new government controls on junk food and measures intended to prevent childhood obesity. In January, The Washington Post ran the article “On Japan’s school lunch menu: A healthy meal, made from scratch” by Chico Harlan; NPR followed up article/radio segment on bento called “In Japan, Food Can Be Almost Too Cute To Eat” by Audrey Carlsen and Daniel N.M. Turner, featuring a radio interview for All Things Considered with host Audie Cornish and author Debra Samuels.

While it is true that the content and presentation of Japanese school lunches (kyûshoku, 給食) and boxed lunches (bento) are quite different from their stereotypical American counterparts, both articles oversimplified the topics. I’d like to focus on each article separately as my criticism for each deals with distinct rather than overlapping issues. First, I’d like to discuss The Washington Post piece’s failure to address some of the negative aspects of the Japanese diet, and, in a separate post, how the NPR piece misses the mark on the “cute” issue and ignores the gendered social issues behind the bento.

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So far, all my Halloween stuff has been food this year. I’m planning a non-food post exclusive to The Lobster Dance soon, and I’d like to add your photos to it! If you have any interesting Halloween-in-Japan photos, particularly pictures of consumer goods and decorations, please comment or contact me at odorunara[at]gmail[dot]com.
On to the post:

I distinctly remember saying last year that I wished that Mister Donut would get a pumpkin-flavored doughnut, and this year, my wish came true!

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Last year, Kit Kat introduced special pumpkin cheesecake flavor for Halloween. Although I liked it quite a bit, I was a little confused as to why the package described pumpkin cheesecake as a “traditional Halloween food.” This year, Kit Kat opted for a new limited-time Halloween flavor, Pumpkin Pudding (パンプキンプリン).

Let’s compare:

2011:

2012:

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I’ll be covering food-related Halloween posts over on I’ll Make It Myself! this season and reblogging here. Enjoy!

I'll Make It Myself!

Starbucks Crunchy Caramel Latte and Pumpkin Muffin

One thing I love about living in Japan is trying the seasonal sweets and drinks in cafes, conbini, and grocery stores. “Seasonal food” is partially the function of the availability of the harvest, such as a café’s changing the menu from summer blueberry cake to fall fig tarts for desserts; however, part of “seasonal food” is more related to cultural perceptions of seasons and their associated foods: Pepsi’s Salty Watermelon soda and Pocky’s and other company’s mint flavors for summer probably had less to do with available ingredients and more to do with the collective consciousness of what are summer flavors; Candy Corn Oreos come from a desire for Halloween food, not from the candy corn harvest.

I love Halloween and autumn, and with more companies in Japan creating Halloween flavors or packages for their products, I’ve decided to do a series on…

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For those of you who follow my posts about gender, head over to my food blog to read my analysis of masculinizing foods for Father’s Day.

I'll Make It Myself!

There are few phrases I hate more than “guy food.”

As it’s now mid-June, Father’s Day has come and gone, and, like any proper holiday, we celebrate it with food. However, as a food blogger and perpetual recipe-hunter, I’ve been bombarded with so many blog posts, articles, and recipe suggestions for “guy food,” “guy-friendly food,” and “meals for dad” that I’m starting to wonder if the gender police are about to knock on my door and arrest my husband and me for willful negligence of the hunter-gather roles we so clearly agreed to in our wedding vows. Because all gender roles are totally fixed and set from time immemorial, and culturally-informed personal preferences have nothing to do with food consumption!

Somewhere along the line, American culture decided that cooking meat over charcoal was the epitome of manly cookery, as it combines the three tenets of heteronormatively masculinizing your home-life: gadgets…

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When it comes to holidays, being an expat in Japan is a mixed bag. Even though I miss my family and friends, I’m quite content to sit out on the insanity of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween, however, is the holiday I miss the most. I first came to Japan in 2005, and I remember that, other than the foreign exchange students, Baskin Robbins, and some foreigner-bars in Osaka, no one really celebrated Halloween. (This may have been different in Tokyo, of course, given the large number of expats living there.)

Baskin Robbins, Hirakata-shi, 2005

Last year, I was shocked to see young Japanese people in Kanazawa dressed up and out at the bars on Halloween weekend. This year, it seems like businesses have really latched onto Halloween as a seasonal/marketing ploy–my coworkers and friends have also expressed their shock that Halloween is booming here.

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