Who defines Japanese food? Is it the chef at a top establishment in Tokyo, a home cook in Osaka, a tea master in Kyoto, the ancient capital? Or is it the midwestern American who thinks sushi means raw fish? Is it the person who scarfs cup noodles, or the devotee of artisan ramen stock? Perhaps it is the Japanese government, which in 2006 sent undercover agents abroad to guard against inferior Japanese food outlets. In this class we will consider how Japanese food came to be defined in distinction to Western and Chinese foods beginning in the nineteenth century, and how Japanese food became a global cuisine. Among our questions: What makes a dish Japanese? How did Portuguese or Spanish frying habits (tempura) and Chinese lamian (ramen) become hallmarks? How traditional is the diet of rice and fish, and in what ways does it interact with the environment? How did Buddhist vegetarians justify sukiyaki? What relationship does food have to the longevity of Japanese today? How does gender affect Japanese food cultures? What are the origins of Iron Chef and bento? We will survey the Philadelphia Japanese food scene and learn to make our own sushi. Some controversies we will discuss include the consumption of whale meat in Japan. We will also investigate Japanese government controls of food to combat obesity and to make food safe. after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Materials include essays, films, novellas, menus, and cookbooks.
Section 301 - SEM
R 0130PM-0430PM