The Japan News“The U.K. has emerged from a dark age in food where too often taste and quality were ignored. We are now transforming ourselves and taking our place as one of the most exciting food cultures in the world,” declared Elizabeth Truss, then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in November 2015.
Such is the spirit of the country running the “Food is GREAT” campaign, an export drive to promote its food and drink overseas. According to Ambassador Paul Madden in Tokyo, the British food industry has grown into the country’s largest manufacturing sector. The industry’s exports to Japan increased from ¥25.2 billion in 2014 to almost ¥30 billion in 2015.
One evening this past winter, Madden opened his official residence in central Tokyo for a dinner, inviting dozens of Japanese foodies representing tourism, hotels, retail and other sectors, as well as the media. Yoshikaze, a sumo wrestler known for his crisp, candid tweets, was among the celebrity guests.
So what did the ambassador have to show?
Expectations for the brighter, warmer season approaching were on full display in “Early Spring Carbonara,” the first course created by Shusei Yogi, the embassy’s chef. The star of the show — on a 27-centimeter green and white Wedgewood plate designed by Jasper Conran — was an orange, half-cooked egg yolk marinated in kombu stock mixed with soy sauce. Accompaniments like green asparagus, turnip and Scottish cheddar were of either Japanese or British origin. “I paid a lot of attention to color coordination so that my cuisine would not spoil the art on the plate,” said the chef.
A willingness to combine diverse elements to create “modern British” courses was also apparent in the main course, which had a rather long name: “Roast and braised Rabbit, Shiitake, Honey Mustard Miso, Leeks, Edamame, Saladana Puree and Mountain Potato.” Rabbit may not necessarily be considered a food animal in Japan, as Yoshikaze tweeted, wondering if rabbit was edible at all.
A hint of smoke, which the English-born and well-known-in-Japan chef Trevor Blyth had hidden in the lean meat presented on a 28-centimeter white Wedgewood plate embossed with a honeycomb design, was a stark reminder that it was still wintry outside.
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