I started Foodies simply to share my impressions of food that I encounterd in Japan and other countries.
I hope to inspire people to savour and enjoy the time they spend preparing and eating food. I also hope to reveal the rich diversity and importance of food within the cultures of different countries. I believe that understanding food and culinary culture of different countries is one of the easiest and fastest ways to know and understand the people. Food is one of the most essential things in the human life and the culinary culture of a country embodies the country’s own history, spirit and joy.
I hope you too can discover and enjoy the different tastes of food from other countries and gain an insight into the people and places it's from.



KUSHIAGE – 9×4=microcosm

The culture and spirit of the sachi is infused into the whole dining experience of Kushiage.

In Japanese, we call fresh ingredients sachi which means fortune.  Fresh fish, shellfish or shrimp is known as umi no sachi (fortune from the sea), fresh vegetables are known as yama no sachi (fortune from the mountains) and fresh pork or chicken is known as no no sachi (fortune from the field).

One of my favourite Japanese cuisines is Kushiage - small, bite-sized pieces of yama, umi and no no sachi deep fried on a bamboo skewer.  Kushi means skewer, age means-deep fried.  When eating kushiage, you can feel the Japanese spirit and fortune.  From the sachi or bite-sized morsels to the good will and warmth of the chef as he prepares and serves the meal.

There are various types of Kushiage, which combine various sachi, for example, brussel sprouts with mince meat inside (see photo below) or chicken wrapped in perilla.  Enjoying the beautifully presented and delicately flavoured sachi while having comfortable conversation with friends.

[Photo] Brussel sprout kushiage with mince meat.

The experience of ordering and eating kushiage is quiet and non intrusive. There are many kinds of kushiage and when ordering, the chef will bring out all the kushiage on the menu. Simply tell the chef which ingredients you don’t want.
The chef will remember each person’s individual order and serve the correct kushiage to the correct person.  If you don`t like sand borer, you won’t receive it!

The menu at my favourite Kushiage restaurant, Mogami, has 36 kinds of Kushiage – because Kushi has another mean. Ku means 9, Shi means 4.  9 x 4 equals 36.

[Photo] The 36 Kushiage at Mogami

Kushiage used to be dipped and eaten with a sauce similar to Worcestor sauce. However nowadays, many different sauces, salts and spices are used to enhance the flavour of the different sachi.
The chef makes the kushiage one by one and serves it to the table without saying a word about which sauce goes with which kushiage. Instead, the chef will point the end of the bamboo skewer towards the appropriate sauce for that kushiage. (see photo below)
[Photo] Spices and sauces from left; salt, Japanese Kushiage sauce
(similar to Worcetor sauce only thicker), sesame sauce,
ponzu (soy sauce mixed with vinegar or citrus juice).
Kushiage from left: crab clawer pointed towards salt,
Shiitake mushroom pointed towards ponzu.

[Photos] A skewer pointed right means don`t use any sauces or salt.

The culture and spirit of the sachi is infused into the whole dining experience of kushiage, from the presentation to the food, to the service, making it truly unique Japanese cuisine.
[Photo] From top left; finished skewers are put into a deep bowl,
fresh vegetables accompany kushiage,
apasaragus pointed towards the salt.



Everyone who visits Australia has been faced with vegemite.

I first encountered vegemite in 1983, when I was an exchange student in Australia.

The jar was bright and cute with its yellow cap and red label. When I opened it, I saw a dark brown, almost black paste. "It looks like chocolate," I thought, "hmm...yum!" I immediately tried it.

I was so surprised to discover it wasnt sweet at all but salty with a very, very unusual taste.

In fact, it tasted awful! "How can people eat this?" I thought. And it seems Im not the only one who thinks this. Visitors from other countries have had the similar experience. When I was on the bus trip with exchange students from 20 different countries, not one person like it. Vegemite must be the most famous Australian food detested by foreigners.

I too, was once like those 'vegemite-detesting' foreigners. But, then one month into my stay in Australia, it happened - Vegemite turned into my favorite food. How did this happen?

It happened because I was homesick and vegemite became my Japanese comfort food.

One day I was having my breakfast at my host familys house and was feeling rather homesick but trying to hide it, when suddenly the smell of soy sauce wafted by. I turned in the direction of the smell only to discover my host brother eating a piece of toast with plenty of vegemite on it. Vegemite is more like soy sauce than chocolate? As soon as I realized the truth of this, it changed my experience. Vegemite became delicious!

I began to see further evidence of the connection between vegemite and soy sauce. When my host mother was making curry and fried rice, I found out she would put in a pinch of vegemite to bring out the good flavor, much the same way soy souse is used.

A few weeks after my epiphany, I learnt vegemite also includes the same ingredient as a Japanese popular medicine for the stomach called Ebiosu.

More than 25 years have past since I have eaten vegemite in Australia, yet I still love it. Now I buy vegemite at the supermarket here in Japan, and it's always on my breakfast table.

I recommend vegemite on toast with rich butter.