FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1 (8)-22019/03/08（Fri）
-- Okayama, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi Prefectures --
♪ The northern part of Okayama prefecture is mountainous area, and dairy industry by Jersey cattle is thriving in the ‟Hiruzen high plateau″ (“Hiruzen Kohgen” in Japanese). Matsutake mushroom is also famous for taking in the ”Kibi” high plateau” (“Kibi Kohgen in Japanese) in the north. The southern part of the prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea,and fish can be taken abundantly. Okayama prefecture as a whole is said to be "sunny country" due to long sunshine hours. It has a positive influence on the production of both agricultural and marine products.
☆One of the specialties of Okayama prefecture is the grape "Muscat" (formal Name is "Muscat of Alexandria") whose name derives from scent of Jakou deer. This grape is said to be "Queen of grape", while Kyoho is said to be "King of grapes". "Muscat" was introduced to Okayama in 1898. "Muscat" is cultivated only in greenhouse . In 1932, "Neo Muscat" was created which can be cultivated in field. "Muscat" is a high grade grape. It is said that Cleopatra loves it.
♪ ”About Chirashi Sushi”. There are two types of “Sushi”, which are “Chirashi Sushi” and “Nigiri Sushi”. "Nigiri Sushi” was created in the Edo period, whereas "Chirashi Sushi" is a local cuisine from long time ago. Here, described may be about "Chirashi Sushi" system.
♪ The "Chirashi Sushi" system is called by various names such as "Chirashi Sushi", "Gomoku Sushi", "Gomoku Chirashi", "Maze Sushi", etc. In Okayama prefecture, "Bara Sushi" will be expressed for “Chirashi Sushi”.
☆Basically, in "Nigiri Sushi", pieces of seafoods put on vinegared cooked rice. On the other hand, in "Chirashi Sushi", finely chopped vegetables (carrots, lotus, rootrenkon, shiitake mushrooms etc.), finely cut sea foods, “Kinshi Tamago”(yellow) (thinly shredded omlet), cucumber (green) and red ginger (red) are cooked with rice. Or, simply the stuffs mentioned above are mixed with the cooked rice. Its appearance is very colorful. So, “Chirashi Sushi” is served for meal of important events.
♪ “Bara Zushi” of Okayama prefecture belongs to "Chirashi Sushi", but it is somewhat different from ordinary "Chirashi Sushi".
☆“Bara Zushi” of Okayama. Mitsumasa Ikeda who was the lord of Okayama clan warned ordinary people of his clan to eat "sushi" by forcing thrift. So, the ordinary people made “Chirashi Sushi” that expensive ingredients such as fish were put under cooked vinegared rice in order to hide from official’s eyes. And just before they eat the Sushi, they turn over the Sushi barrel. So that, high quality ingredients would be on top. This is “Bara Zushi” of Okayama. This “Chirasi Sushi” can still be eaten even now.
♪ ” Muscat" which is a special product of Okayama prefecture is officially called "Muscat of Alexandria". It is characterized by sweetness filled with elegance. So “Muscat” is said to be "Queen of grapes". The name “Muscat” is derived from the odor of musk deer.
☆"Muscat" was introduced to Okayama in 1898. "Muscat" succeeded in greenhouse cultivation in Okayama, and since then this grape is cultivated in greenhouse. In addition to the deliciousness and elegance of "Muscat", the cultivation conditions are very strict that makes this grape a very high grade grape. Famous beauty Queen, Cleopatra, is said to love this grape.
♪ “White Peach (“Hakuto” in Japanese)” which is a speciality peach yielded in Okayama prefecture is a species of the highest grade peach.
☆The discovery of this peach is the origin of cultivation of Japanese peach. Masuta Koyama of Kumayama town made a new species of peach, "Gold Peach (“Kinmomo in Japanese)" in 1895. “Kinmomo” developed to “Hakuto” by Masuta and his diciples. Currently, it is not an overstatement to say that "Hakuto" in Okayama prefecture is the highest quality peach of Japan.
♪ In Okayama city, there is a Japanese garden called "Korakuen" representing Japan. After seeing this garden, please enjoy the agricultural products, fruits, sea foods available in Okayama prefecture, and local cuisines using them.
♪ There are about 140 islands in Hiroshima prefecture, and there are two places of World Heritage which are “Aki no Miyajima” with “Itsukushima Shrine” and “Atomic Bomb Dome”. This prefecture is also the province where citrus fruits and marine products can be abundantly taken.
♪ Hiroshima prefecture is the origin of Japanese lemon and its production amount is the largest in Japan. The introduction of lemon to Hiroshima prefecture has an interesting background.
☆When Hiroshima prefecture bought navel orange seedlings from Wakayama prefecture in 1889, three lemon seedlings were mixed in many navel orange seedlings. It was the beginning of lemon cultivation in Hiroshima prefecture.
☆For the cultivation conditions of lemon, small islands in Hiroshima prefecture which locate in Seto Inland Sea (“Setonaikai” in Japanese) are conformed to the conditions. The conditions are: mild climate, few plains and few water, and having experience to cultivate citrus fruits. Citrus fruits such as navel oranges, lemons etc occupy an important position for the agricultural products in Hiroshima prefecture.
♪ Oyster is an important product among fishery products in Hiroshima prefecture. Hence, oysters in Hiroshima prefecture have the highest harvest in Japan. It is said that oyster cultivation in Hiroshima prefecture began in 1532, and after the Second World War, cultivation of oysters has been adopted the hanging culture method from rafts. Gentle topography, tidal current, water temperature, salt concentration at the estuarine of Ota River, plentiful plankton etc. raised cultivation and increased the harvest amount.
☆”Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki". “Okonomiyaki” is a dish of thinly sliced cabbage mixed with batter made of flour, egg, pork and water, and then heated on a heat resistant pan. It is a characteristic in” Hirosima Okonomiyaki” that instead of green onion, inexpensive cabbage is used, because it is easy to get in large amounts.
♪ ”Nikujaga”. Heihachiro Togo who was a Nevy Admiral in the Meiji period. Studied abroad in England and France when he was young. After he returned to Japan from France, he ordered Japanese naval chef to make beef stew, since Heihachiro became fond of the cuisine when he ate it in France. However, the cooking stuff made the “beef stew” cooked without the same ingredients as France. This dish has a good reputation and it is made as "Nikujaga (meat and potato)" so far.
♪ The World Heritages of Hiroshima prefecture are spots worth visiting. And at the same time, please enjoy oysters and delicious things.
♪ About 70% of the land in Yamaguchi prefecture is forest, but agricultural products are abundant. On the other hand, the Yamaguchi prefecture is full of fisheries because the three sides of the prefecture face seas. There are also many small islands. Seven prime ministers including the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe came out from this prefecture.
♪ In Yamaguchi prefecture many kinds of marine products can be taken. Among those fish, puffer fish (“Fugu” in Japanese) which is also a prefectural symbolic fish. The balance between "taste” and "poison” of “Fugu” fostered the history of “Fugu”.
♪ The bidding method with bag for “Fugu” (“Fugu no Fukuro Seri” in Japanese). In “Fugu no Fukuro Seri” in Yamaguchi, sellers and buyers put their hands into the bag and price is decided by grasping kind of which finger, for example, thumb or little finger. Thus, it is a unique method.
☆Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa who were great Shogun banned eating “Fugu” against their soldiers, because of avoiding death of soldiers by Fugu’s venom. Similarly, this prohibition continued also from the early days of the Edo period to the Meiji period. However, Hirofumi Ito who was the first Prime Minister in the Meiji period decided to withdraw the ban. Hirofumi born in Yamaguchi prefecture wanted fishery cuisines at his hometown's restaurant. But at that time, because sea were rough, any fish except for “Fugu” is not in the restaurant. So the owner of the restaurant served “Fugu” for Hirofumi who loves “Fugu”. From this time, therefore, Hirofumi solved the ban at Yamaguchip prefecture at first. Then, the cancellation of the ban spreaded throughout Japan.
☆”Asa no Netaro bento” is a “station lunch box at Asa station (Asa eki no “Ekiben” in Japanese). "Netaro” was a sloth who did not work and slept well during 3 years and 3 months. At one time, he went to Sadogashima in Niigata prefecture having lots of grass sandals (“Waraji” in Japanese) on a boat. Sadogashima Island had a large gold mine (“Sado Kinzan” in Japanese). He gave “Waraji” free of charge to the miners of “Sado Kinzan”. After the miners came out from “Sado Kinzan”, Netaro recovered the ”Waraji” used and he washed the used Waraji in order to extract gold powder inside of the used Waraji. Consequently, he became a millionaire. He used the obtained money for the development of rice field etc. It resulted him to be a man respected by Asa’s people. He died at the age of 210. He had spent 3 years 3months for thinking to get much money for the people in Asa. So, “Asa no Netaro bento” is a typical large lunch box containing luxury many food staff obtained from Asa region and local cuisines of the region.
♪ Hagi city of Yamaguchi prefecture is a city where you feel a calm history of Japan. So, it is good if you visit there. And please eat much delicious local cuisines of Yamaguchi prefecture at the same time.
♪ Next will be mentioned for the FOOD CUTURE ANECDOTES of Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures as FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part1 (9)-1.
Refer to FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1 (9)-1 (Kagawa and Tokushima Prefectures).
Refer to FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1 (8)-1 (Tottori and Shimane Prefectures).