Nikkei Chronicles #1—ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

For many Nikkei around the world, food is often the strongest and most lasting connection they have with their culture. Across generations, language and traditions are often lost, but their connections to food remain.

Discover Nikkei collected stories from around the world related to the topic of Nikkei food culture and its impact on Nikkei identity and communities. This series introduces these stories. 

 Our Editorial Committee selected their favorite stories in each language. Here are their favorites:

To learn more about this writing project >>


Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>

food en ja es pt

Sushi Therapy

An orderly led George Tanaka to the nurses’ station. His eyes were downcast, his face blank, and he shuffled as he walked down the hall. He looks much older than his forty-six years, I thought. According to his case record, George had been badly injured in 1944 when a bomb exploded near his company’s site somewhere in Italy, and he now had a steel plate in his skull.

It was September 1968 and I had just entered the two-year program of U.C. Berkeley’s School of Social Work. As a psychiatric social work intern, my first placement was at the Menlo …

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food en

Cooking Traditions with Mom

I have been told by various people that I am a “good” cook. I’m usually able to put together dishes without recipes from whatever is in the refrigerator or to come up with menu ideas just walking down store aisles. Breakdown a chicken? Just give me the sharp cleaver. Need a grilled 20 pound Thanksgiving turkey instead of an oven roasted one? No problem. Need an easy appetizer for 20? Caramelized onion/pancetta quesadillas with guacamole. Sushi for six? Just let me start the rice. How exactly I learned to cook is partially a mystery to me. It might have been …

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food en pt

My gastronomic habits in Brazil

In my childhood, I thought that all Brazilian families had a rice cooker at home. Not only that, I imagined that it was usual for Brazilians to eat misoshiru in the cold weather and eat tamago-gohan when there was not a side dish. Do you know what tamago-gohan is? The tamago-gohan is a mixture of egg with rice and the directions are very simple: just mix a raw egg with a little soy sauce (shoyu) and place it over the Japanese rice, preferably warm, in a bowl. After mixing it all together, your tamago-gohan is ready! It may …

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food ja

“おふくろの味”オートミールと親父のおじや

日本のおふくろの味といえば芋の煮っころがしとかお煮染めが想像されるかもしれないが、家ではまるで違っていた。朝食の懐かしい味といえばオートミールだ。

私が育った頃はまだ外国製品のことを舶来品と呼び、輸入食品はデパートや特定のお店に行かないと入手できなかった。しかし、舶来品好きの母は私と弟をアメリカ製の離乳食で育てた。そんなわけで、朝食もチーズトーストにミルク、スクランブルエッグとハムまたはベーコン、そしてオートミールだった。固めに作ったオートミールにミルクとバターと砂糖をかけてゆっくりかき混ぜると芳醇な香りが食欲を誘う。ケロッグのコーンフレークもあったが、オートミールのおいしさにはかなわなかった。

学校給食がなかったので毎…

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food ja

かんだばージューシィを探して

――「かんだばージューシィ」とは沖縄語でいものつる、つまり「かずら葉」のなまりである。私はこれを入れた雑炊が好きで、特にシイバスのアラを焼いて実 をほぐしたものをだしにして作ったジューシィ(ゾウスイ)は、たまらないほどおいしい。私がこの味を知ったのは、つい二、三年前のこと。

幸地さんのきよさんが、「水代が高くって、只水を捨てるのは馬鹿馬鹿しい」と前庭のダィコンドラを全部掘りおこし、その後にサツマイモを植えつけた。しば らくしたら芽を出し、間もなく庭一面に青々とした葉をつけたるつが伸び出した。きよさんは、伸びたつるの先をハサミでチョキン、チョキン切ってそれを雑炊 の中に入れたのを「食べてみなさい、おいしいから・・・」とすす…

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Brazil chashu cooking family food holidays identity Itadakimasu mother new year's Nikkei Chronicles oatmeal occupation Japan ojiya okinawa okinawan zosui oshogatsu rice sukiyaki sushi tamago gohan tempura Teriyaki veteran