Japanese Food Culture Event at Dartford Grammar School

Hayashi Chef Hayashi explaining the geography of Japan
Bonito Chef Hayashi straining bonito flakes from dashi, ebi-shinjo dashi soup, and prepared plates for the umami experiment
Students Students, parents, and teachers enjoying onigiri they made themselves
The Embassy of Japan in the UK held a Japanese food cultural event at Dartford Grammar School in cooperation with the Japanese Culinary Academy UK on 3 March. Students deepened their interest and understanding of Japan through tasting and learning about Japanese cuisine. This presentation and workshop was led by Chef Daisuke Hayashi, a Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador.

The students learned about umami, the fifth flavour, through tasting a special assortment of umami-rich foods. Dashi soup-stock, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan cheese were used to show the students the different places umami manifests itself.

They learned about the centrality of rice in the Japanese diet - not only boiling rice for eating, but about how fermenting produces the microbe koji. This can be recombined with rice, water, and other ingredients to make sake, vinegar, soy sauce, and miso, all of which are indispensable parts of Japanese food culture. The students also got to make their own onigiri (rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed).

Though this workshop, the students learned how Japan’s unique geography, climate, religion and culture had profound effects on the development of Japanese cuisine. Finally, the students learned about “itadakimasu”, the Japanese phrase of gratitude recited before every meal.

This event to deepen understanding and interest in Japan was attended by 35 students, 10 guardians, and 12 teachers. The Embassy of Japan wishes to thank the teachers, staff, and students of Dartford Grammar School for allowing us to bring them this presentation on Japanese food culture.

For more information on this project or to discuss arranging an event at your school, please contact info@ld.mofa.go.jp.

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