Japanese food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world and now we know why! “Taste of Japan in New York” was held on last Wednesday September 21, 2016 at Carnegie Hall in Midtown, NYC. The exciting and thought provoking event was created by Yoshi Tsuki of Tsuji Culinary Institute with involvement from the MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture for Forestry and Fisheries). The event was held to educate individuals on Japanese culture and cuisines. Japan is a country known for healthy individuals who live long lives absent of disease. We were greeted with a sampling of Japan’s best sake, roasted green teas and moon pies. After the sampling, we listened to a lecture on Japanese culture and foods, which go way beyond common dishes such as tempuras and sushi.
Famed cancer researcher Professor Ryuji Haramoto gave a lecture on the origin of Japanese foods and the principles used to create dishes. The main characteristics of Japanese foods are seasonality, eating with the five senses, serving dishes, and colorful enjoyment. In Japan, different dishes are used monthly to appeal to our senses. Foods are enjoyed seasonally to maintain freshness, quality, and flavor. Color choice is used to describe the dishes, and inspiration of plating is derived from the four seasons. Most Japanese dishes use seafood as their protein since it is widely available due to the hot and cold currents in Japan. The climate of Japan is humid, providing the perfect conditions to grow vegetables and hearty grains such as rice and barley. These foods, combined with healthy preparation methods leads to a population of healthy individuals. Due to these factors, Japanese people often live long, wholesome lives absent of many chronic diseases that many Americans face.
David Bouley then cooked up a custard using dungeness and princess crab, bonito flakes, and a Japanese ingredient called “kudzu”, which is used as a thickening agent. Unlike cornstarch or flour, kudzu is made from a root which is gluten free, and does not contain additives. Kudzu also has a low glycemic index and boasts a high fiber content. These factors combined can help stabilize blood sugar levels, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and improve 5y/gastrointestinal health. Using these ingredients, Chef Bouley created a custard that was nothing short of impeccable. It tasted like a dense, thick soup that was rich in butter and processed agents, yet it was nutritious and delicious! Bouley, a classically trained French chef, decided to sell his famed restaurant and relocate to create cuisines that were suited for individuals with dietary restraints. Bouley said to us that he believes that American food is “dead food” which is full of additives, and sugar. Bouley said “What we have been eating in America is not nutritious, and our diet is a leading cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.” By introducing fresh foods that are raw, natural, fermented, and “alive”, David believes we could make America a much healthier country.
Pictures by: Kenji Takigami