Asia in Japan or Vice Versa
Politics or religion is often taboo to talk about at a dinner table except at their fundraisers. Cook/Eat is almost always only one common, safe subject to share throughout Asia in connecting countries and people gathered together through globalization or economic progress or tourism. Besides, American and western food cultures make Cook/Eat even more further diverse there today. It may be interesting to see the intermingling of Asian and western food cultures there and here. Let’s see Asia in Japan, and Japan in Asia as a specimen.
Okinawa, I think, is a good place to start with. Believe it or not, Okinawa is located further south than Taiwan in latitude and, once in the past, used to belong both to China and Japan for its geo-security reason. Okinawa was the last fierce battleground of WWII between the allied forces and Japan. After the war, Okinawa people appear to enjoy both traditional, southern Pacific Asian and newly acquired American diets. Traditionally, sea-veggies and every part of pork are regularly on the table, and burgers and French fries are occasionally. Interestingly, Okinawa is the place of the longest life expectancy and healthy living in Japan. Okinawa may be a good spot to learn about a blend of Asian-Japanese-American food culture for healthy eating-living.
Like throughout our country, Chinatowns are all over Asia and beyond. A recent TV travel show broadcasted dozens of Chinese restaurants and wedding palaces for flocks of Chinese tourists in Santorini, Greece. In Japan, Chinatowns in Nagasaki and Yokohama serve authentic and also a little bit localized chow mein and other dishes. Like our ethnic districts like Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Saigon, Little Bangladesh (also non-Asian Little Havana, Little Italy, etc), Asians bring in their food cultures into Japan. Authentic kimchee, you can buy in the middle of Tokyo. Latin American food culture is also present there by the people from Brazil, Peru, etc. where Japan sent numerous immigrants a century ago. Descendants of those immigrants are offered jobs in the manufacturing industries in Japan, bringing their acquired food cultures.
Sushi is a good example to see the intermingling of food cultures in Asia. Today sushi restaurants are all over Asia and beyond, such as London, Paris and others where originally Japanese went for business or pleasure like the Chinese in Greece. One, at the Puerto Vallerta port, I spotted from a cruise ship to Mexico. The difference, a big one, between sushi and other Asian cuisines, I have to mention here. Sushi uses raw or uncooked stuff, while many Asian foods are cooked with animal fat or vegetable oil at high heat. From a food safety point of view, well cooked foods are safer than raw or uncooked ones. In order to prepare sushi or sashimi, everything must be free of bad microbes or what could come from kitchen gadgets and environment. Sanitation-sanitation-sanitation is more than required for sushi making in addition to location-location-location for business. You know what to do for that? Wash hands! It is the very first step to enforce food safety or sanitation in kitchens and also food manufacturing facilities. Personally, I will not eat sushi if sold on an open-market from a street vendor, though I dare to venture into unknown, cooked stuff on streets in Asia. In a sense, sushi has brought a concept and practice of more sanitation in food preparation into Asia.
In Asia or our Asian market here, Asia has become a daily thing, traditional or infused, boosting our appetite and health. I should say we are fortunate in a mingling society to eat a variety of foods.