The Yomiuri ShimbunFUKUSHIMA — Some towns in Fukushima Prefecture are trying to make a new local specialty out of the galette — thin, flat crepe-like buckwheat pancakes that come from the Brittany region of France. Municipalities have been promoting the dish in cooperation with local business and tourist associations.
It is hoped the Gallic dish will revive the local buckwheat industry, which suffered a fall in demand following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, as well as increase consumption of local vegetables used to make the dish.
The dish is made of thinly grilled buckwheat batter with toppings added, such as eggs, cheese and vegetables.
Eki Cafe Shirakawa, a cafe operated with funding from the municipal government, inside JR Shirakawa Station in the city of the same name started to offer Shirakawa Galettes using locally produced buckwheat flour, eggs and vegetables for ¥500 from January this year.
The idea was conceived after a project at Shirakawa Minami Junior High school. To vitalize the town, students proposed making galettes a local specialty dish because Shirakawa is a sister city of Compiegne in northern France. An official at the municipal government’s town development promotion section heard about the proposal and asked the cafe to start selling the dish.
As it takes time to prepare the dish, people who want to order galettes need to make reservations by phone (0248-23-5530, in Japanese only) at least one day in advance. The recipe for the cafe’s galette is posted on the local government’s website and they hope the dish will gain popularity in other local restaurants and households.
In the town of Ono, a commerce and industriy association also chose the galette to promote local buckwheat flour, which is less well known compared to the Aizu region in the prefecture. Currently, the galette is available at four shops and restaurants in Ono. The galette is named Ishiusubiki Onomachi Komachi Galette as the area’s buckwheat is ground by stone mortar, and there is a local legend that Ono no Komachi, a poet in the Heian period (from the late eighth century to the late 12th century), was born in the town.
A tourist association in the village of Kawauchi, where soba buckwheat noodle restaurant after soba restaurant shuttered their businesses following the nuclear power plant accident, also decided to use the galette to revive the local buckwheat industry. The village sent staff to Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture, where the galette has previously been promoted, to learn the recipe, and they developed Kawauchi Galette that includes locally grown vegetables.
An official at the Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry said, “Buckwheat is produced in many places, and it has probably been easier for municipalities that suffered from unsubstantiated claims after the nuclear power plant accident to promote the galette because the dish has a trendy image.”
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