Monday, November 14, 2005

 

French curry

Watching telly this morning, there was a segment on a breakfast show about posh curry. One thing that has always puzzled me about Japan is that they usually associate curry with France. As a European, France is the last country that comes to mind when thinking about curry, especially Japanese curry, which is more often than not rather unappetising-looking white rice with lumps of beef in a vaguely spicy brown sauce. Perhaps there is some association between the curry base and French-style demi-glace sauce?

Anyway, this segment introduced posh curries from around the Ginza area - first up was a 2,000 yen lunchtime curry (the usual price for curry lunch is under 1,000 yen); next up was a 3,000 yen one, where the roux was made from a huge 5.5 kilo slab of prime Matsusaka beef (probably a good few tens of thousands of yen's worth); and finally they had a 5,000 yen tuna curry, featuring a tuna katsu (breadcrumb battered deep-fry) made from 100 grammes of prime tuna, the sort of tuna that would sell at a sushi shop for 10,000 yen. Actually, maybe they get their tuna as left-overs from a sushi shop once it passes its expiry date?

This wee piece quite nicely sums up a lot of Japanese people's attitudes, I'm afraid. Curry to me is at its most basic a way of using up poor quality meat and veggies, especially coming from India where stuff will go off at a moment's notice. I refuse to believe that anyone could really tell the difference between a 10,000 yen slab of tuna deep-fried and drenched in curry sauce and a 100 yen offcut prepared in the same way. However, one is seen to be consuming, which is the raison-d'etre for not just many people, but also many television shows here in Japan. Much like that survey on Beaujolais Nouveau, being in on the trend is what gives people enjoyment, not the actual product itself.


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