Thursday, October 26, 2006

Corn Consumption in Japan

I dedicate this post to 0tarin, who thinks I made up corn 'cup-a-soup'.

Many foreigners have posted about the odd uses of corn in Japan, particularly the preoccupation with putting it on pizza. I have to admit that one of my earliest fast food dining experiences resulted in a similar appalled reaction. I was at Shakey's pizza where they offered an "all you can eat" buffet which included corn pizza. It was more of a "nothing you can eat" experience for my husband and I.

I'm not much of a fan of corn but I have become really attached to 'corn cream soup', especially when I can toss a ton of American Cardini's croutons in it (from Costco in Japan). I'm sure that makes it doubly bad for me; a real carbohydate-loaded treat.

Rumor has it that the Japanese have been known to put corn on ice cream but I've never actually seen that. I have seen my fair share of buns at convenience stores and bakeries that lovingly cradle a generous bed of mayonnaise studded with corn in the center. I'm too scared and disgusted to brave eating one but I have to admit that these buns represent overuse of two of the most oddly-used western foodstuffs in Japan.

I did a little research and apparently the Japanese corn growers can't keep up with the insatiable demand for canned and frozen sweet corn in Japan and most of it is imported from the U.S. Eighty percent of Japan's corn is from imports but very little of it appears to be fresh. Its' relatively rare to see ears of fresh corn at local shops and it's usually pretty expensive.

Incidentally, the cup in the picture was part of a set of dishes I was given when I left my company after working there for 12 years. All of them are largely white with a swirly pattern.


Luis said...

Wow. That takes me back. I tried the Shakey's all-you-can-eat special just twice, enough to find out that it was essentially a way for them to dispense of their unsold ingredients. As I recall, tuna fish (flaked, not raw, of course) and corn were the only types available during that time. Eww.

Shari said...

I don't know if Shakey's is still doing business in Japan. It's been a long time since we've been to one. In fact, I haven't been to any restaurant in over 3 years. This is, in part, due to the atmosphere in most restaurants being cramped, noisy, or smoky. It's also because of my bad back and not wanting to run around much but I don't think I'd want to be in most restaurants regardless of my back pain.

Roy said...

Shakey's was the place to be in the late '80s. It was OK when you're young and poor and your body could process all that grease but now I don't think I could take it. There are still a few of them around but I haven't been to one in more than 10 years.