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Dec 13, 2006 08:43 AM

the trouble with food nannies

I thought the Chowhound users would take interest in this editorial about the Japanese government's wrong-headed implementation of food nannies -- a board to judge the authenticity of Japanese food served abroad.

I saw a news report about this recently, in which a Japanese TV reporter made faces while eating at sub-standard ''Japanese'' restaurants in Paris (with NOT ONE Japanese wait staff or chef -- shijirarenai!). While watching this, I had to wonder if this guy would make the same fuss at a chain izakaya in Japan that serves discounted tuna from Spain prepared by an underpaid Chinese cook.

While I see a need for authenticity, and acknowledge that Japan has plenty of great chefs who've trained abroad, this whole food-nanny (nazi) has a bad smell.

Anyway, food for thought.

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    1. how is this different from the french making these michelin guides trashing anything that doesn't conform to their idea of good food?

      1 Reply
      1. re: choctastic

        The Michelin inspectors work for a private company. The "sushi police" work for the Japanese government.

      2. Hey if food nannies were somehow allowed to operate in the U.S. you'd have a million policing everything from chicken fried steak to NY bagels to pizza to you name it...oh wait that would be hardcore regional chow hounds. Never mind.

        Okay I half jest but you can see the sentiment is there. The Japanese just are willing to execute. I do find it mildly odd and don't understand the motives but would like to. Best I can think of is food has a different meaning else could you create something as wacky and great as Iron Chef and the whole country loved it?

        1. I find this especially hilarious as the Japanese have no problem with telling you how some Japanese chef makes French/Italian/whatever better than any native can. I was married to a Japanese woman for seven years, nothing they do surprises me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Scrapironchef

            I have no opinion on whether they're correct, but I don't think it's so incongruous -- they believe that they take food and authenticity more seriously than we do and that therefore they are more of an authority in general on food.

            I think that belief is based on "lowest common denominator" theory --i.e., most Americans don't take food as seriously as those of us who post on this board, and they're judging us all based on people who would consider fast-food california rolls to be an index of Japanese cuisine.

          2. Why is it hilarious? There ARE plenty of great French and Italian restaurants in Tokyo where Japanese chefs achieve a very high standard in those cuisines, and I'm sure they'd receive high marks from the equivalent French or Italian authentication agencies.

            Nothing in the articles about this says anything about them insisting on Japanese chefs, they just don't want pad thai and egg rolls masquerading as Japanese food.