Why France and Japan should never collaborate

I am convinced that France and Japan should never collaborate… when it comes to cuisine.

Fortunately, I think things might be going my way. Japan has now overtaken France as the country with the most three-star Michelin restaurants. This is bound to generate some (un)healthy rivalry. Chefs across both countries must be whipping up a storm of nationalism-infused dishes, harking back to traditional dishes and giving them that modern twist, which makes critics melt over them. Whatever does happen, I’m hoping it might reduce the number of places that think they’re serving French cuisine in Japan.

Disturbingly, it was at the Kansai French-Japanese Institute where I was traumatised by a Japanese rendition of French cuisine. Perhaps more disturbingly, French people actually frequent this place and its restaurant. In fact, as we entered the building a Frenchman called out bonjour to us as we passed him. (If only he’d known I was British – the greeting may have been more along the lines of “Cameron, shut eeeet!” and “Join ze Euro!”)

The traumatic event involved this:

Worst confit de canard ever

That is a ~1500円 confit de canard. It’s a sorry excuse for confit de canard (duck confit). I am more than familiar with the French way of cooking meat (ie. as little as possible) but confit is a preservation process and the meat should therefore be cooked. When a duck is well cooked, it falls off the bone. Let’s refer to theoracle Wikipedia on exactly how a confit de canard should be done: “The meat is slowly poached at least until cooked, or until meltingly tender, generally four to ten hours.” All recipes online for this dish mention how the meat should be tender.

Then why was I struggling to tear it off the bone?

I left in a very bad mood, partially because I should have known better. What was I doing eating French in Japan? I wouldn’t eat sushi in France! Yet I’m still drawn to international cuisine….

Coming up on the blog:

A Quest for Bread: The Japanese Bakery Saga

A Tale of Two Indians: The Good and the Ugly

And….does this look good? In-depth deliciousness will be posted here soon!

The Divine Waffle Ice Cream Deal

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

One thought on “Why France and Japan should never collaborate”

  1. Great blog! It is strange that the Japanese can take almost anything out of Europe and do it better – except, it seems, food! But then, from your previous descriptions of eating in Japan, they don’t seem to be coming from a starting point of “taste buds” do they? Bland and more bland. It is rather like when the Asians first came to the UK, poor people, and discovered our pitifully bland diet. The message of hope is that we have got better at providing tasty food over the years and are continuing to do so. This is probably because of our multi-culturalism, and, perhaps, the same will happen in Japan in time.

    Who knows? Keep waving the flag for good, tasty food everywhere!

    Janet the Ganet

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