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For the love of curry

The ebb and flow of anime can be chronicled by its trends; those little indicators of time, place and style. Whether it’s the giant eyes and ‘M’ fringes of the nineties aesthetic, the seemingly infinite love of moe, or (off the back of a certain ice-skating show) the glut of mainstream-baiting boys’ love series to come. Yet one of the most pervasive trends in recent years is more innocuous and, well, tasty.

Even the most casual anime fans could point out the Japanese love affair with curry. While we at littleanimeblog.com love every iteration of curry (though Thai steals the top spot), the Japanese palate is attuned to Indian flavours. Funnily enough, it was us imperialist Brits that first introduced Indian cuisine to the land of the rising sun back in the Meiji era, when India was still under ole Britannia’s thumb. The story goes that British sailors brought the delicacy to Japan, carrying with it a distinctly English influence. The rest, as they say, is history.

food-wars-akira

The man with the golden nose

It’s no coincidence that anime from the last 5-10 years are littered with examples of Indian characters, from the infectiously funny curry arc in Black Butler to Akira Agarkar Yamada, secret agent and one part of Tsuritama’s quartet. And who can forget Akira Hayama, the spice obsessed, cocksure cook from Food Wars!. K-ON!’s After-School Tea Time even penned and performed their loving ode ‘Curry Nochi Rice’ (‘Curry, Then Rice’). To say it’s a cultural infatuation would be putting it mildly.

Perhaps the obsession starts at an early age, as a school lunch menu would be unthinkable without at least one kind of curry in tow. Outside of school, there’s no shortage of eateries, with more than 2,000 restaurants scattered across the country serving only Indian food. And of course, curry remains a staunch favourite with home cooks – any number of anime can attest to that much.

Curry is so much a part of the cultural consciousness that’s it’s almost unimaginable to go longer than a month, sometimes even a week, without gobbling down a serving or two. As Japan has the canny ability to take cuisines and make them their own, so too was curry adopted into its culinary mix. A number of region-specific examples have sprung up across the country – favourites such as scallop curry from Aomori Prefecture, or mackerel curry from Chiba Prefecture and many more besides.

curry-cook-off-black-butler

You know you want it

It might not be to everyone’s taste, but summertime in Japan is inseparable from spicy food. The theory is that spices are supposed to cool you down through getting a sweat on. Makes sense. In any case, if you thought curry was popular in winter or autumn, just wait until the sun’s shining.

If food-themed events are the means of legitimising a meal among the masses, then curry is bona fide. The Curry Grand Prix sees hundreds of Japanese chefs showcase their skills in a cooking competition, while other curry-themed events take place all year round. So next time you sit down to an anime and they’re harping on about curry, just remember, there’s much more than meets the eye (or is that mouth?).


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7 Comments on For the love of curry

  1. What a great and very informative post this was. 😀 It just goes to show that you learn something new every day. Thanks for sharing this. As for, my stomache and I don’t get along well with spicy food, which is very unfortunate. And here I am, nearly going to sleep and getting hungry again. Maybe an episode of Psycho Pass will take my mind of the food😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dominic Cuthbert // December 14, 2016 at 7:14 am // Reply

      Thanks buddy ^^ Trust me, I was hungry enough writing it. Aww, it’s a shame you can’t eat the spicy stuff, but at least there’s plenty of great dishes at the milder end of the spectrum. Psycho-Pass cures all ails :p

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved how you talked about the history of curry as it pertains to Japanese cuisine. Getting a sweat on to cool yourself down makes sense, too!

    I also became quite hungry reading this, haha.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

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