Thursday, October 02, 2014

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NY1 Health Reporter Erin Billups traveled to Japan to file this special series on Japanese nutrition and healthcare.

The Japanese Way: Older Japanese Aim to Pass On Slow Food Tradition

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Reporting from Japan for this NY1 series on Japanese nutrition and healthcare, Health Reporter Erin Billups filed the third installment on Washoku, a Japanese slow cooking tradition that older Japanese say is becoming lost on younger generations.

This year UNESCO added Washoku, a Japanese cooking tradition, to its "Intangible Cultural Heritage" listing.

Its recognition was applauded by older Japanese as the young turn their taste buds to more Western fare.

We visited Kinryu, a restaurant that serves traditional Washoku style meals, specifically called Kaiseki cuisine.

"Originally it consisted of one soup, five dishes. Mainly one bowl of rice, one cup of soup, raw fish, a grilled dish, and a boiled dish," says Eiichi Sato, the chief chef at Kinryu Kaiseki Restaurant.

It's a multi-course meal, to be eaten slowly over several hours.

Simmered octopus with fried soy bean milk skin, with green beans, potato, some sashimi tuna, needle fish and yellow jack were among the dishes.

Kaiseki is not just a meal; it's an experience. It's about the room, the season, the very dishes the food is on and the presentation.

Kinryu has its regular customers, but wants to gain the attention of younger generations.

The chef here admits, though: it's difficult.

"Today's young people, their mothers are in their 40s and 50s. They end up serving dishes which require their least efforts," Sato says.

We took a trip to the countryside outside of Tokyo to Sunny-Side Up.

Kids at a small English immersion school are learning the value of slow food, a return to traditional Japanese farm cooking.

"I cook for them every day this organic, clean, local food." says Sunny-Side Up Founder Nancy Singleton Hachisu.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu focuses on traditional Japanese food because it's the way her husband was raised, and how she cooked for her kids.

She's a part of the slow food movement that encourages a return to the country's culinary roots.

Everything her students eat is in season, from nearby farms or her own fields.

"It's easier because you don't have that much choice, and so it forces you to be creative," says Hachisu.

Parents admit, they don't have the time to prepare food the same way, but still want their kids to learn about it.

"When you are working, you know, you don't have time for cooking. That is my reality," says one parent, Satomi Tsurubuchi.

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