Friday, February 13, 2009

カレーライス

J-Major Curry Party 2008

The Japanese dish, curry rice, is a common dish. Curry is most readily identified with India, but Japanese curry--if memory serves correctly--did not come from India but from England. The British colonized India, imported curry, altered the flavor and style to match there palette and made it their own dish. The Japanese in the Meiji period, importing many things from the West including cuisine, adopted curry from the British and adapted it to their own taste buds. Indeed, the popular dish "rice curry" ライスカレー--not to be mistaken with curry rice--is closer in to the British rendition of curry than with the original Indian curry, which seems to have dozens if not hundreds of different recipes.

The basic Japanese curry is a dark thick sauce made from a roux and includes onions, carrots, potatoes and meat, either beef, chicken or pork and is generally served with rice--karee nanban is curry served with udon and karee pan is a donut (usually) filled with curry. It is easy to make and even easier to eat--i.e it takes very little chewing to swallow, which is not exactly good for your digestive system.

This distinction between "curry rice" and "rice curry" is more than semantic in Japan. Curry rice カレーライス is served on top of the rice and is the typical serving style in homes and Japanese diners. But for the more sophisticate who eat curry in western-styled diners, hotels and high end department stores, the curry is called rice curry ライスカレー: served in a gravy boat separate from the rice. To me, the taste is virtually same but but the presentation requires a re-ordering of the name.

Further, it is (not so) important to note that curry in Japan is never served with gohan, the Japanese word for "rice," but rather with raisu, the Japanese pronunciation of "rice." This has nothing to do with the actual rice. Curry rice and rice curry are both served with cooked Japanese short grain rice, not the long grain rice of Thailand (Jasmine) or India (Basmati). So what is the difference? Beats me. No Japanese has ever convincingly explained this to me except to say that curry rice is considered a "Western" dish (go figure) and so it is natural to use the Western word to represent the rice as well. Of course, when I ask why they call a "cutlette bowl" katsudon instead of katsu-booru, I am met with consternation. This also works with curry noodles: Why karee nanbam カレー南蛮 (curry of the southern barbarians) instead of karee nuudoru. Yes, I can be such a provocateur.

Anyway, why am I talking about curry? Well, every year I have a curry party for Japanese majors--no I take that back. There was one year when I didn't. I was too busy--which is my usual explantion, and I'll leave it at that. This year, I'm on sabbatical and am unsure if I should have another one. These parties began when the school administration offered a modest sum of money to promote student-teacher interaction. This modest largesse dissipated in a couple of years, but the "demand" for the party never waned so I continued it--except for that one year--at my own expense. A couple of years ago, Hamano sensei began to provide funds to cover some of the cost which was very helpful. But I wonder if there is any demand or need for such a party when I am on sabbatical.

If you think we should hold our J-major Curry Party, leave me a comment. Since there are more than 20 majors, I hope to see a goodly number of responses. That would surely convince me.

9 comments :

Anonymous said...

have a curry party I moss curry!

Erin said...

Curry party!!! Two years without dry curry is far too long....

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaitlin said...

Curry party!!! It was sad having to miss it last year.

Anonymous said...

I'm desperate for the taste of some authentic curry

Pls let's have a curry party soon!

Eric Reid said...

I agree! curry curry curry!!!!

Danielle said...

I refuse to graduate unless there is a curry party!

Anna Sarnek said...

CURRY!!!
i've never beenn... please have ittt

generic cialis said...
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