Japanese curry: a tradition from overseas
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
‘Curry’s from India, right? So what makes Japanese curry so special?’ we hear you say. Well yes, Japanese curry does originate from India... But via the British and the army. Lost in translation? Keep calm and curry on... It’s a long story:
Back to the nineteenth century. You know, back when the whole of Europe was packed with factories and the bourgeoisie held tea parties to share exotic stories from the colonies. At the time in Japan it was also the fashion among the sophisticated classes to eat white rice. The Japanese army even recruited with the promise that future soldiers could eat white rice every day.
Little did they know that such an unbalanced diet would have the opposite effect... because a lack of thiamine causes scurvy. So they looked for something more nutritious which still allowed them to feed many mouths quickly. And they found it among their own troops: in the navy. During their travels, they learnt from the British, who in turn had learnt from the Indians, that pouring a sauce made up of butter, flour, curry, vegetables and/or meat over the rice was a wonder cure for beriberi (because there’s lots of thiamine in meat and flour).
Hooray for Karé!
No sooner said than done: the Japanese version of curry was born and the soldiers gradually conquered the entire empire. The rest is history. Throughout Japan the curry houses shot up like bamboo shoots. Karé-raisu as they call it there, became so popular that you could eat it anytime, anywhere. (We’ve even been led to believe that there’s a karé-raisu doughnut filling 😉)
Ghent-Tokyo 9,478 km
Anytime, anywhere, except for around the rest of the world. Because Japanese curry isn't a traditional Japanese dish, but an imported one, it took many years for it to follow in the footsteps of sushi and ramen to take over the rest of the world. Until now. Because now you can already eat Japanese curry in London and Rotterdam. And it’s also coming to Ghent very soon.