FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1 (4)-12017/12/11（Mon）
♪ Chiba Prefecture is full of agricultural and marine products, so that the output of both agricultural and marine products is nationwide. Eventually there are many things that occupy the top position in the yielding amount.
♪ Peanut of Chiba Prefecture
☆Peanut of Chiba Prefecture accounts for 76% in its yielding amount of whole Japan. The taste of Chiba’s peanut is evaluated as the first-class.
The Japanese government encouraged peanut cultivation in 1874 and distributed peanut seeds through Japan. And then Keijiro Terasaka and Shobei Futami in Kanagawa Prefecture got peanut seeds from China via Yokohama in 1871 and 1873, respectively. It is said that in Chiba Prefecture it was cultivated for the first time in the current Naruto Town in 1877 by Manuemon Makino who obtained peanut seeds from Kanagawa Prefecture. The climate and soil at that place were suitable for cultivating peanut and the enthusiasm of farmers led to the success of the cultivation.
However, since peanut was imported from China and other countries, the yielding amount in Chiba is decreasing every year from about 1970. The aging of peanut farmer may be a big reason for the yield decreasing. But the sales of boiled peanut of “Satonoka” species is growing.
Peanut of Chiba has the best taste and safety guaranteed, because its cultivation is performed by organic pesticide.
♪ Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
☆Chiba Prefecture is known as the huge production place of “Shoyu (Soy Sauce)”. Consequently, the shipment value of soy sauce is the largest in Japan. Noda and Choshi Cities are main production places. Although Noda faces inland that is different from Choshi facing sea, both places began to brew soy sauce in the 1650’s. Both places have similar climate which show high humidity suitable for Koji mold breeding. Further, in both places, it was easy to supply soybeans and wheat which are main ingredients of soy sauce. Additionally, for both Noda and Choshi, water for soy sauce production was fine quality and there was a large consumption area called Edo (Tokyo now). These conditions seem to be a common element in Noda and Choshi.
“Shoyu” plays an important role for tasting Japanese cuisine, so that it becomes a carrier of Japanese food culture.
“Shoyu” is popular as “Soy Sauce” in foreign countries now. The frequency for using “Shoyu” is rising and spreading worldwide. It may be stimulated by the spread of “Sushi”. In addition, “Shoyu” is also used for steaks and salads now.
In China, since 3000 years ago, there was a solid or semisolid food that solidified fermented mixture of grain and salt and it was used as a seasoning by combining with liquids. This is said to be the origin of "Shoyu”. It is said that similar items existed in Japan from the Yayoi Period (about 200 DC).
About the history of “Shoyu” in Japan, a literature tells us that in the latter half of the 16th century, we can see the character of "Shoyu”. “Yu” in “Shoyu” means "oil". “Oil” in this case implies “thick liquid”. About the first “Shoyu” in Japan, there is an interesting anecdote. When a Zen priest in the Kamakura period whose name is “Kakushin” followed the manufacturing method of miso in China, he made mistake to increase the amount of water. But he recognized good taste in the extra water part. It is said to be the starting point of "Shoyu”.
The spread of “Shoyu” to the common people began from the Sengoku period to the Edo period. At the beginning, "Light Shoyu (Usukuchi Shoyu in Japan)” was produced at “Kamigata (Osaka area now)” , and then it was transferred to Edo. But in Edo it was changed from “Light Shoyu” to “Heavy Shoyu (Koikuchi Shoyu in Japan)” in the late Edo period. The establishment of manufacturing method for “Shoyu” was is said to be the middle of Meiji Period. The basic ingredients of “Shoyu” are soybean, wheat, salt and koji mold.
“Shoyu” is one of the most proud seasoning for Japanese people.
♪ Local cuisines of Chiba Prefecture, “Hakarime Donburi” and “Teppozuke”
☆The history of "Hakarime Donburi" is shallow and it is a cuisine planned by Futtsu City's Chamber of Commerce in 2007. The origin of the word "Hakarime" is come from the rod of beam balance used in fish market until several years ago. The rod had a lateral line hole on the side of the body like a scale which was called “Hakari (balance) Me (scale)” by workers of fish market. Because the body shape of conger eel (Anago in Japanese) which is a main food stuff of “Hakarime Donburi” resembles the scaled rod of beam balance, the workers called conger eel “Hakarime”. “Hakarime Donburi” is a bowl cuisine in which after the body of “Anago” was opened, it was boiled, tasted with sweet soy sauce, and put on the cooked rice in a bowl. You can eat it in restaurants in Chiba.
☆“Teppozuke” is a pickles representing Chiba Prefecture. “Teppo” and “Zuke (Tsuke)” mean “Gun” and “Pickles”, respectively. “Teppozuke” was served for people who visit “Naritasan Shinshoji Temple”, the famous big temple in Narita City at accommodations and dining restaurants. “Teppozuke” is made by the following procedure. After removing seeds of oriental pickling melon (Shirouri in Japanese), the central part of Shirouri to make hole. Into the hollow, green chili (Aotogarashi in Japanese) wrapped with perilla (Shiso in Japanese) is inserted. Shirouri treated like this is soaked into Shoyu or Miso sauce. After the pickles was cut thinly, it is annexed to cooked rice or “Ochazuke” which is a mixture of cooked rice with green tea. The origin of the name of “Teppozuke” comes from the appearance of the hollow “Shirouri” resembling the barrel of gun.
There are Narita International Airport and Tokyo Disney Resort in Chiba Prefecture. Chiba Prefecture has such international places. On the other hand the prefecture has also traditional things such as shrines and temples and tasty local cusines.
♪ "Soka Senbei” (Soka rice cracker)
☆”Soka” is Soka region (Soka City now) in Saitama Prefecture and “Senbei” means “rice cracker". Let’s Introduce history concerning the origin of "Soka Senbei”.
In old time, Soka flourished as a town facing “Nikko Road”. Therefore, there were some teahouses for traveling people to go to “Naritasan Shinshoji”. There was an old lady named "Osen" who was an owner of such teahouse who sells dumplings. She had thrown unsold dumplings to a river. When a samurai soldier saw such Osan’s behavior, he advised her saying “Old lady ! First you must flatten the unsold dumplings and then dry the flattened dumplings. Finally bake them”. She did everything said by the Samurai, so that baked rice crackers , that is, “Soka Senbei” has been sold well. This is said to be the origin of “'Soka Senbei”. It may be a good example of “eco”.
♪ ”Gyoda Fly”
☆"Gyoda Fly" is a "fly" made in the vicinity of Gyoda City in the northern part of Saitama Prefecture. In the early Showa period, it became popular as a snack of female workers at the “Tabi” factory in Gyoda. “Tabi” is Japanese style short socks which is with a separate division for big finger and other fingers.
“Gyoda Fly” is a baked food like “Okonomiyaki”. On a iron plate, the mixture of flour with pig meat and green onion is extended thinly and baked on an iron plate. Soy sauce with “Shichimi Togarashi (blend of seven spices )” are put on the baked thing,.
♪ ”Chichibu Region” and “Kaede Sugar” (Maple Sugar)
☆”Chichibu Region” is located in the northwestern part of Saitama Prefecture. This region is a basin surrounded by mountains which are “Bukosan mountain” and “Ryokamisan mountain” etc., so coldness in winter is severe and summer is hot. “Chichibu Region” had had poor agricultural fields. However, copper was mined from shallow places of ground in ancient times, so in the beginning of the 8th century the oldest copper coin in Japan was made in Chichibu. We call it “Wado Kaichin”. Furthermore, in 1923, the cement industry using limestone mined from “Bukosan mountain” started and developed.
Such mining industry has enriched the economy of Chichibu. On the other hand, due to the geography and climate of Chichibu region the food culture of this region has long been cooked with bear, deer, beef meat, river fish cuisines that can be taken from Arakawa river and Naguri river, cultivation of buckwheat, mushrooms which were characterized by mountain cuisines. The present agricultural situation in Chichibu Region is changed to harvest many kind vegetables and fruits.
☆In Chichibu, we can see very beautiful autumn leaves of native maple tree (“Kaede” in Japanese), because the temperature difference of summer and winter is big like Canada here. So that, Chichibu City established "Maple Forest Promotion Council" in 2005. This council is actively trying to get maple sugar (“Kaede Sugar” in Japanese) and utilize it to make various sweets. Indeed, “Ramune (soda pop)” and other sweets have been commercialized from collected “Kaede Sugar”. It is rare that “Maple Sugar” can be taken in Japan.
Southern part of Saitama Prefecture is becoming a bed town of Tokyo. Consequently the culture including food culture of Saitama is somewhat influenced by that of Tokyo. But Saitama Prefecture has many traditional and unique culture like the rural “Kabuki” and has so many local cuisines. Please enjoy Saitama’s culture, especially, food culture.
♪ Next will be mentioned for the food culture of Kanagawa Prefecture and Tokyo Metropolis as Food Culture Anecdotes Part 1 (4)-2.
Refer to Food Culture Anecdotes Part 1 (4)-2 (Kanagawa Prefecture and Tokyo Metropolis) 2018/1/24
Refer to FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1 (3)-2 (Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures) 2017/11/14