Jul 31, 2013

Faking Food !

This post was chosen as BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Pick ! 

Beginning today, I plan to start a new bi-monthly series on Japan called “Japan and I”.
In many ways, Japan still remains a mystery to the rest of the world. 
For here, the ancient and the modern not only coexist but seem to do so in great harmony. The land of the rising Sun is as comfortable with its bullet trains and cutting edge technology as it is with Zen and Geishas.
Japan has a unique culture, with its own peculiarities and quirks that seem natural to the Japanese but intrigue and surprise all foreigners. 
Through this series, I attempt to talk about the Japan I saw and experienced! 

In the inaugural post of the series, we talk about the Plastic Food Displays in Japan.

On my very first day in Japan, I decided to go out for a meal. As I walked down a street lined with restaurants, I was surprised to see that all of them had plates of food displayed outside or in their windows. What amazed me that the food  looked so fresh, the ice-creams never melted and  the beer remained frothy. Then off course once my Jet Lag had worn off and I could think clearly I realized that the food was made of plastic ! 

When ever we go to a restaurant, we usually decide on what we want to eat by looking at the menu or asking the waiter about a particular dish. Not so in Japan. The Japanese decide what they want to order by looking at its plastic replica in the restaurant’s window display.

 The plastic model will have everything from the size of the portion, the garnishing, and even the placement of the food exactly like the actual dish.The name of the dish and the price is also displayed. Its amazingly realistic ! 

Image curtsey - http://www.travelocafe.com

Apart from the fact that the Japanese prefer things to be visual than written, the reason behind these plastic models is that when Japan opened up to the west in the beginning of the 20th century and a lot of westerners trooped in, they had a very tough time in understanding the Japanese cuisine. 
I suppose many a confused westerner must have ordered a plate of noodles and ended up with a plate of raw fish instead. Then the Japanese hit upon this ingenious idea of displaying plastic “samples” of the dishes.

And not only the main dishes, but even dessert is displayed. Now who wouldn't like to go in if the display is so tempting ! 





Earlier the fake food was made of wax but now it’s made of a whole lot of sophisticated plastic. The plastic food or “Fake food” Industry is really big in Japan. I once visited the kappabashi area in Tokyo that is famous for shops that sell such plastic food to restaurants. 

Although things like bowls of rice, a plate of sushi or bowls of plain noodles are manufactured in bulk, most restaurants send pictures of the dishes they want plastic samples of. The samples are then painstakingly handcrafted to make them look realistic!

These shops have something for the tourists too ! If you want, you can take home a plastic sushi, shrimp or even ice-cream sundaes in the shape of key chains, cell phone charms and even magnets!



(Images from fakefood.com)

Delectable, I am sure ! But would you really want a piece of raw fish or a bit of chicken hanging from your phone ?

70 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Sunil, and welcome here !

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  2. thats a wow thing I learnt about Japs Chaps!!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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  3. Very interesting. Japan falls pretty much on the top of my places to visit.

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  4. It is true, we first eat with our eyes. And this is such an innovative way to experience that!! Really cool :)

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    1. Shilpa, the Japanese believe as much in presentation as they do in preparation !

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  5. Yes, I want a usb! A fake sundae hanging from my laptop is just the thing I want :)

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    1. To remind you of forbidden food :P

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  6. Wow! That is certainly something I did not know. Send this post to the many outlets of 'Bikanerwala' dotting Dilli. It might make them want to remove those stale-looking pieces from their show case windows and go the plastic way! :P (The flies will not be too pleased though!)Can hardly wait for the next Japanese "dish" served so delectably. :)

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    1. That is a good idea Sakshi !But as you says the flies wont be happy and neither will be the customers who want to taste everything before they buy :)

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  7. Being a pure vegetarian I get really pissed when the husband narrates tales of eating raw fish in Tokyo.

    Enlightening post Ruchira.

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  8. Loved the post Ruch!
    Looking forward to more!!
    Love
    preeti

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    1. Thank you Preeti ! And thank you for visiting :)

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  9. Yes! And the fake food displays look scrumptious! There is a massive Japanese Food Market called Mitsuwa right outside New York that I used to go quite often. They used to have dozens of such displays. I was always mesmerized by how real and awesome they looked.

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    1. Yes been the fake ones look yummy. I yearning for Japanese food now !

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  10. Interesting and, dare I say, delectable :) Looking forward to more in this series - till you start teaching kanji of course :)

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  11. Superb! Didn't know about it and innovative thinking. It also saves on so much food being wasted in displays. I would surely love to have a souvenir to carry back home. And I love seafood though not of the raw variety! Looking forward to more posts in this series!

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    1. Thank you Rachna ! It is innovative isn't it and as you say it does save a lot of food wastage.

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  12. V interesting! Imagine replicating so tht it looks as good as original

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    Replies
    1. yes, it does look almost original !

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  13. Great post. Reminds me of my days in Shanghai. They had a similar style of displaying food.

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    1. Oh I didn't know China does it too !

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  14. I would never have guessed, Ruchira. And no, thank you, I'm not carrying sushi around as a pen drive! :)
    Cool idea about the series. Looking forward to more.

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    1. Thank you Corinne. Glad you liked it. Yeah carrying sushi as pen drive is not my idea of fun too :)

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  15. I did not know about this aspect of Japan. loved the idea of displaying food. we should try out this in India.

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  16. Interesting. Yeah, like others would love to know more about Japan.

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    1. Thank you ! More is series coming up !

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  17. That is interesting. I see displays in restaurants in US too but it is usually the "actual" food and not plastic ones. Waiting for more posts in this series :)

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    1. welcome here ! And yes more posts coming up !

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  18. I have seen such displays here too. I think some Suku restaurant. It looks very tempting.

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    1. Yes Saru, they do look very tempting !

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  19. I have seen Plastic replicas of dishes in Singapore restaurants. Guess, it gets easier to choose.

    And trust the Japs to have bits Ebi and salmon hanging from their key chains :/


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    1. Ohh yes, it does make it easier to choose !

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  20. Ah, I have been hearing all about this...........now I get to read. Fab start girl. Just keep the metal on the pedal and you will be good to race ahead!

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    1. Double thank you to you Blogwati Gee - After all it was your idea :P

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  21. This looks really interesting! I had not heard of plastic food before and this was a very good piece of information for my benefit. Thanks Ruchira!

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  22. What a wonderful idea Ruchira! I am looking forward to reading your posts. This one has really whetted my appetite (pun intended)! :D

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  23. I have had genuine japanese food only once--RAW FISH.
    I didnt think it was my kind of food.But,this one sounds intersting

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    Replies
    1. You do need to develop a taste for raw fish !

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  24. Wow! this sound cool and definitely ingenious. I've heard horror tales of friends visiting Hong-Kong and ending up getting worms/beetles instead of something else they had assumed to be their kind of food.

    Wonderful post and some knowledge gained.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. it is a ingenious idea ! eww imagine eating worms and beetles !

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  25. awesome read...waiting for the next one :-)

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  26. Dunno about the raw fish etc. but dessert, yes! I'd love one of those sundaes! Yum. What a cool idea to display it like that. Forever appetizing. I've seen some of the food court outlets here in India have a saran wrapped display, but I guess that would have to be disposed at the end of the day or refreshed. I look forward to reading more about Japan!

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    1. Glad you liked it Vidya. I gues even I wouldn't find a ice cream shaped magnet !

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  27. actually quite a brilliant idea, dont u think? also agree with what someone said above - may not be appealing for the raw fish though :D
    Roshan
    www.godyears.net

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    1. Welcome here Roshan. Yes it is a brilliant idea !

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  28. This is really a unique way of displaying food which eases foreigners too !
    CONGOS on sat pick.
    Looking fwd to all ur travelogues :)

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    1. Thanks Afsan. Yes it is so unique isnt it !

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  29. This is so much more tempting than any menu can ever be :) Love the pen drive the best!!

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  30. OMG, look at the size of that icecream sundae!! This is such a superb marketing strategy and I'm not surprised about the Japanese hitting upon such an innovative idea!

    Love the idea of this series, Ruchira!

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    1. I could never resist those sundaes ! Thank you Roshni. Hope you like the next one as well !

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  31. Congratulations on the pick. This is such a unique idea. I would love to have a pen drive made of food items.
    Japanese culture has always fascinated me, be it via books or movies. I am looking forward to reading the series.

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    1. Thanks ! Next in series coming soon !

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  32. Very interesting and a very practical way of solving the problem. Congrats for the spicy saturday pick.

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    1. Thank you ! it is practical isn't it !

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  33. Ahh ...that was such faking delectable post :D The deserts in particular look so yummy :) Thank You Ruchira for this very informative article .

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  34. Loved the post, looking forward to the whole series!

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  35. These look so real. Very interesting topic to start off the Japan series. Congrats on the Blogadda pick :)

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