When it comes to Japanese food, many people subconsciously feel that it is “expensive” and “cannot afford”. The old artist also talked about kaiseki cuisine with a per capita price of more than 3,000 yuan, and the message area aroused a lot of readers’ eyes and tears.
I have seen many posts circulating on Zhihu asking “Why are Japanese ingredients expensive and unpalatable?” If you directly use such a label to define it, you will miss a lot of local flavors.
You know, what really prevails in Japan nowadays and can impress the Japanese people is actually the “B-level cuisine” with “A-level taste and B-level price”.
Perhaps many people will be confused by the term “B-level”. The two terms “A-level” and “B-level” originated from American movies, and were originally used to distinguish between film duration and production budget.
△The tempting takoyaki, okonomiyaki, fried skewers, etc. are all “B-level gourmet”. / Netflix Street Food
Therefore, when this concept is transferred to the gastronomy world, there will be- “A-level cuisine” is used by the Japanese to refer to those high-end foods with precious ingredients and excellent products; “B-level cuisine” naturally refers to cooking with relatively low-end ingredients. But the price is cheap and delicious, and the food that is popular with the general public can also refer to the “non-mainstream” hidden food produced by the cheap shops in the alleys and villages that are popular with the locals.
To put it bluntly, B-level cuisine is nothing more than cheap cuisine that seems to be born from poor, but whoever says that cheap is not good, B-level cuisine will ask you to slap your face every minute.
△High-quality and low-cost, B-level gourmet that has captured the hearts of the people. / Unsplash
1. How delicious is B-level cuisine?
Although his origin is “ordinary”, it is no exaggeration to say that B-level cuisine is the dominant player in the food industry today .
You can hardly imagine how enthusiastic Japanese people are for Class B cuisine. Not only did they develop the habit of visiting the shops and checking out the famous B-level food in various places, some even traveled around the country on motorcycles, and they were all devoted to eating cheap and delicious B-level food.
What’s more, B-level cuisine has to be on top of each other. Japan also holds the ” B-1 Championship ” every year , just to choose the most delicious and popular B-level cuisine. The “B-1 Championship” has been held since 2006, and every year there are B-level gourmet groups from various places hoping to compete.
△The “B-1 Championship” held every year is a gourmet carnival party. / Koto Travel Information Bureau
In 2012, in just two days, the number of tourists from all over Japan rushed to watch the game reached 610,000. These diners will pay to taste dozens of B-level cuisine participating in the competition, and then throw their “sacred” chopsticks into the B-level cuisine recycling bag that they think is the best.
Any kind of B-level food that wins this competition will usually be “famous in the first battle.” In just one day, countless diners will eagerly flock to the “birthplace” of this dish. There will be long queues at the entrance of the local snack shop, hoping to get the “top feeding” selected by hundreds of thousands of chopsticks. .
△The annual competition is very lively.
They are just like “grass-rooted queens” that have been dug up. Before they become B-level dishes that are popular across the country, they are often just local snacks that are delicious but are not well publicized and cannot gain popularity in the country.
Taking the two-time popular champion “Fujinomiya Yakisoba” as an example, it is the characteristic of Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Unlike other fried noodles, it features unique steamed noodles and a strong taste. It combines Fujinomiya steamed noodles, The shredded cabbage and lard residue are placed on an iron plate, stir-fried with Worcester-like spicy soy sauce, and finally sprinkled with fish (sardine or mackerel) soup powder.
△B-level food festival B-1 contest in the first and second events, both won the first place “Fujinomiya Yakisoba”.
Another popular type of fried noodles, “Garlic Chow Mein”, is related to the city of Suan Mountain, which is located on a plateau and is covered with snow all year round. Due to the severe cold weather, the residents of Mount Garlic are accustomed to making miso that is easy to store and will not rot.
In the 1950s, the spicy soy sauce generally used to make fried noodles was very expensive, so the residents of Suanshan had to use the easy-to-obtain miso sauce instead.
Unexpectedly, this adds a unique flavor to the garlic mountain fried noodles.
△The “Garlic Fried Noodles” made with chicken from the garlic mountain and high-altitude cabbage. / kifunosato
If the Japanese eat lightly, you might as well see how they eat water. The Japanese have a variety of viscera preferences and cooking methods.
In Kanagawa, Japan, there is a thick charcoal grilled sausage. Charcoal is a clever method. It is grilled at a high temperature to remove excess oil and the outer skin is roasted until it is fragrant. The outer skin is crispy and the inner is soft. Drinking beer, the scent of grease is filled between the teeth on one side.
△Kanagawa’s thick charcoal grilled fatty sausage, simple ingredients, endless aftertaste.
For Japanese Okinawans, they are experts in bitter gourd cooking. The Okinawa people who “have no pain or happiness” also set up a memorial day for bitter gourd, which is probably the “only one” in the world. Their bitter gourd is more fragrant, and the locals eat it directly as cucumbers, and the cooking methods are even more varied.
△Okinawa bitter gourd scrambled eggs, sprinkled with bonito flakes, became a specialty of Okinawa.
There is also takoyaki that we are very familiar with and can be found in almost any corner of the earth. Its ancestor, Akashiyaki, is also a local snack.
“Akishi-yaki” was born because Akashi is a place where gems are produced. Rice noodles and egg whites are used when making Akashi gems. In order not to waste materials, workers often fry the leftover egg yolk with the mold used to make gemstones. This is how “Akashi-yaki” was invented.
△The appearance of Akashi-yaki is similar to takoyaki, but the egg content is higher than that of takoyaki.
It is said that the folks are masters, and there is wisdom everywhere. Don’t underestimate these mediocre B-level dishes, these are often the deepest hidden treasures.
2. How can Japanese people rely on Class B cuisine?
Compared with Japanese haute cuisine with a lot of red tape, the history of B-level cuisine is not long, and there are not too many rules and regulations. In other words, the essence of B-level cuisine is actually the opposite of A-level cuisine—the mix is random, the ingredients are easy to obtain, and the preparation is quick .
This is related to the history of Japan after the war. After World War II, Japan was a waste of time, and many places became different types of industrial cities. As a result, various industries serving the working class in the city have also developed, including local fast food that later became Class B cuisine.
△The lively Japanese streets after get off work offer all kinds of local fast food. / Unsplash
Although local fast food is rooted in local snacks, it also caters to Japan’s industrial development. Compared with local snacks, local fast foods have a shorter production time, simpler craftsmanship, and can help people replenish their physical strength.
For example, the origin of pimple soup in Ashbetsu City, Hokkaido is because the local coal industry developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Coal miners are in desperate need of energy supplies after a tiring day of work. Coupled with the severe cold weather in Hokkaido, pimple soup came into being.
△Japanese pimple soup. /Wikipedia
A bowl of steaming pimple soup has as many as ten ingredients, which not only meets the standard of meat and vegetable collocation, is cheap, but also can satisfy your hunger, and the whole body will be warm with a drink.
Similarly, Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture, in order to cater to the living standards of local petrochemical workers, invented a Tonteki pork chop-pork chops instead of more expensive steaks, and added garlic that can help workers replenish their energy.
△ Mouth-watering Tonteki Pork Chop/A Not-So-Popular Kid
Local fast foods like this flourished with Japanese industry after the war. However, due to the inconvenience of communication at the time, fast food in these places was only popular in certain areas and did not spread across the country.
In the 1980s, there was an upsurge of Class A cuisine in Japan. At that time, the Japanese economic bubble was at its highest point, and people all had money and leisure. The people yearn for Western lifestyles and eating habits, and they admire the “high-end cuisine” represented by European and American food.
It was not until the 1990s that local fast food entered the public eye. The popularity of the Internet has made it easy to obtain information resources from all over the world, including local snacks that have always “hidden their merits and fame.” Ramen noodles with different flavors, which are popular in different places and flavors in Japan and even around the world, are actually fast-food in different places.
△ Ramen with different flavors popular all over the world has become the business card of “local fast food” in Japan. / Unsplash
Local fast food has truly become a B-level cuisine that is very popular for a while, depending on the new millennium. Entering the 21st century, Japan’s economic outlook is no longer, and many people’s wallets are getting weaker and weaker, so they prefer simple and cheap food, and Japanese people no longer blindly worship foreigners. This drove local fast food to quickly occupy the mainstream of the market, and was given a “B-level cuisine” name that rivals A-level cuisine.
The B-grade cuisine, which was born during the economic depression, naturally shouldered the burden of revitalizing the economy. For example, Tsuyama City in Okayama Prefecture has been unable to reproduce its past prosperity due to its economic decline. It is useless to build commercial buildings or industrial parks.
△Sakura viewing spot “Hexan Park (Tsuyama Castle)”/kifunosato
Therefore, the locals decided to turn their attention to the promotion of beef intestine udon. Jinshan’s cattle have always been famous, and beef intestines and udon is also a famous local food, but outside of Jinshan, this delicacy is rarely known.
In 2009, Tsuyama participated in the “B-1 Championship” and won the third place. Overnight, this small town swarmed with a large number of diners from all over the country in the name of udon.
The formerly deserted noodle restaurant is now crowded with people, and the boss even has to hire a part-time waiter temporarily. This has also benefited local meat processing plants, pasta factories, and even scenic spots that were not visited by tourists in the past.
△The rich taste of Tsuyama beef sausage udon, the locals love soda or wine. / Colocal Japan
In this way, a simple dish of beef sausage and udon created unprecedented economic benefits for Jinshan and rejuvenated the city.
Class B cuisine also has a soothing magic. In 2011, a major earthquake devastated Miyagi Prefecture on the Pacific Ocean. The old homes were washed away by the sea, and the shops that many people used to live on were also unsustainable. In order to support post-disaster reconstruction, all parts of Japan specialize in products from Miyagi Prefecture, including the famous local B-level dish “Grilled Beef Tongue.”
△No one can resist the charm of “roasted beef tongue”.
It can be said that Class B cuisine not only satisfies their appetites, but is more like their spiritual food during the depression period, maintaining the emotional power of the national economy.
Look at “The Lonely Gourmet”, what makes Goro intoxicated and warm is nothing more than the seemingly mediocre Chinese cuisine, beef offal, curry rice, fried udon… After all, the most genuine and sincere deliciousness does not need to be expensive.
△Food is a comfort after a busy day. / “The Lonely Gourmet”
3. Are those who love B-level cooking lower?
As the former overlord and the current overlord, the A-level and B-level cuisines seem to have stood on opposite sides of each other since their birth, representing the two ends of the chain of contempt for the food industry.
Class A cuisine represents high taste and high consumption class. Their cooking and platting processes are all in accordance with strict production standards, and people must also follow meticulous dining etiquette during the process of enjoying cooking.
△A-level gourmet kaiseki cuisine, which has extremely high requirements on the plate. /ins
On the contrary, B-level cuisine represents the middle and lower class. They are made quickly, have plenty of portions, are reasonably priced, and do not require any dining etiquette. To put it simply, the duel between A-level and B-level cuisine is like a duel between a Michelin restaurant and a street stall.
The Japanese are also happy to talk about the difference between AB grade. In Crayon Shin-Chan’s 2013 movie “Super Delicious! B-level gourmet escape! In “, the conflict between A and B level cooking is vividly demonstrated.
△ A Gourmet Japanese B B Cuisine / Hokkaido Jalan
Gourmet Boey, who has always insisted that people all over the world eat A-grade food, is full of contempt for B-grade food and hopes to eliminate these “inferior food”. Boy was instilled in his opinion since he was a child: Class B cuisine is food for the poor, and he is an advanced person who has received formal dietary training, and he should not eat the food of the inferior.
However, in order to taste the delicious sizzling fried noodles made with secret sauce, Xiaoxin and his friends fought a battle to defend the B-level cuisine by accident. They believe that B-level cuisine represents love, courage and vitality.
At the end of the movie, Boye is deeply influenced by the delicious fried noodles. The differences and class barriers between A-level and B-level cuisines were also broken by the innocent and enthusiastic “Chow Mein Songs” of the children.
△The moment when A-level gourmet Boyi was cured by fried noodles.
In fact, even in the real world, A-level cuisine is no longer an opponent of B-level cuisine. After all, the luxury of Japan’s rapid economic growth has faded, and the Japanese no longer care about the eyes of Westerners as they did in the past. This makes their taste feel liberated and return to the original.
The randomness of B-level cuisine makes this concept generalized to all corners of the world. Almost everyone can call their cooking “Class B cooking”.
The family’s mother’s cooking is also a Class B dish-a simple fried noodles, Xiaoxin’s mother Meiyou will mix some leftovers, Nini’s mother will add tempura scraps, and Zhengnan’s mother will add some bean sprouts. And Toru Kazama’s mother will put shrimp and cuttlefish.
Class B cuisine, like pizza, taco, and fried rice, can be prepared at will. There is nothing authentic or unorthodox, so it can cater to most people’s taste buds. It can be said that Class B cuisine is an exclusive gourmet world created for “beaters”.
The “community animals” of the working class do not have so much time to waste. Cooking food that can satisfy hunger and increase appetite with readily available ingredients is a rigid demand.
The more affluent upper class tend to use high-end ingredients to show their identity and social status. Are there really classes in taste buds? Perhaps the so-called class nature of taste buds is not born of human life, but is a result of the social structure of the polarization of the rich and the poor.
But food is not distinguished by high or low. Old artists prefer food stalls, tea restaurants, fly restaurants, and small restaurants on weekdays because they can taste the smoke and flames of the world. But I don’t reject the occasional gluttonous meal in high-end restaurants.
△The street in the middle of the night, the steaming snack street, let your guard down and talk with others. / Unsplash
To put it bluntly, we actually go to different places to eat with different purposes. Food stalls, B-level food, are full and social. Michelin and five-star hotels are occasional rewards for oneself, appreciation for the environment and style art. No one is superior to others.
Echoing Japanese B-level cuisine, the fast food and snacks that can be seen everywhere in the streets and alleys of China are our localized “B-level cuisine”.
I remember a story from a friend of the old artist. She lived in Australia for 4 years. She thought she would miss the eight great cuisines in China. She never expected that Lanzhou ramen, Shaxian snacks, yellow braised chicken, and pickled fish that she once disliked. The nostalgia that she remembers is the nostalgia that can’t be served in the lobby, such as the Northeast grilled skewers.
△I miss that bowl of ordinary but authentic street food.
She said: “I only found out when I went abroad that the taste of my hometown is not in the Manchu Banquet, but in a bowl of hot and sour noodles for ten yuan.”
Obviously, compared to expensive A-level cuisine, the unpretentiousness of B-level cuisine makes it more popular and can reach the softest parts of people’s hearts.
Most importantly, it gives people the courage to get up again when they are shy in their pockets and their dreams are frustrated.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/why-do-japanese-love-class-b-cuisine/
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