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World War II Cuisine: A World Adrift

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Chapter Summary

The world war II brought about two drastic changes that set the stage for major transformations in Japanese cuisine. First, it set the stage for the immediate postwar economic catastrophe that forced people to look for alternatives to a rice-based cuisine. Second, it removed many of the social divisions that had still divided prewar society. White rice, according to the logic of the time, was perfect for a small island with a big population - supposedly, no other foodstuff was as appropriate to Japan's conditions. The war eradicated the notion that eating meat equaled civilization and revived the vegetarian origins and taste preferences of the Japanese diet. This idea offered Japan a healthier postwar life-style although it had delivered the opposite during the war. Finally, the war diet encouraged the idea that Japanese ate differently because they were different and that eating defined one culturally and ethnically.

Keywords:Japanese cuisine; postwar; prewar; war diet; white rice; World War II

10.1163/9789004220980_010
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