Postcard from Japan, No 2

AS, Going Postal
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Japanese cuisine encompasses the regional and traditional foods of Japan, which have developed through centuries of social and economic changes. The traditional cuisine of Japan (和食 washoku) is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes; there is an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Side dishes often consist of fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. Seafood is common, often grilled, but also served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Seafood and vegetables are also deep-fried in a light batter, as tempura. Apart from rice, staples include noodles, such as soba and udon. Japan also has many simmered dishes such as fish products in broth called oden, or beef in sukiyaki and nikujaga. Foreign food—in particular Chinese food like ramen, fried dumplings, and gyōza—as well as foods like curry and hamburgers are commonly found in Japan. Historically, the Japanese shunned meat, but with the modernization of Japan in the 1880s, meat-based dishes such as tonkatsu became common. Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi, has become popular throughout the world. In 2011, Japan overtook France in number of Michelin-starred restaurants and has maintained the title since.

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