-"THE NATION'S KICHEN":OSAKA FOOD CULTULE-
“Osaka’s People-Driven Food Culture”
The major ingredient of Osaka’s food culture is its citizens. In Osaka, Japan’s centre for commerce and shipping for centuries, cuisine evolved with the tastes of the merchants who controlled the local economy. Their pursuit of ever more delicious dishes when they entertained clients drove practices that have evolved into a legacy of spirit, tradition, and skill that lives on to this day, consistently thrilling gourmands from around the world.
“Dashi: The flavor of Osaka”
Osaka has long been a destination for superior food products from across Japan, earning it the nickname “The Nation’s Kitchen.” Dashi, the basic cooking stock of the local cuisine, has developed over centuries, the fundamental ingredients being kombu (seaweed) from Hokkaido and dried skipjack tuna flakes from Kochi prefecture. In addition, plentiful seafood in Osaka Bay and the Seto Inland Sea’s relatively narrow inlets and outlets function to keep a steady circulation of high-quality seawater, making it possible to consume fresh seafood all year round.
The Kansai region is still home to many ancient ingredients and traditional dishes that can be said to be the origin of Japanese cuisine, including Kema kyuri (cucumber), Suita kuwai (arrowhead), Osaka shirona (variety of bok choy), and Kotsuma nankin(pumpkin). The people of Osaka have always been passionate about their food, helping raise the quality of local cuisine to an extremely high level, giving rise to the Japanese term “Kuidaore,” which literally means “to spend all your money on eating.”
Konamon (literally “flour stuff”), which includes the street foods takoyaki and okonomiyaki, is an important component of the region’s food culture. Flour-based udon noodles can also be considered konamon and Osaka’s kitsune udon is particularly delicious due to the quality of the dashi.
“Sakai Knives” (the spirit of craftsmanship that underpins food culture)
It has been said that everything originates from Sakai, and while Sakai was among the first places to manufacture guns and textiles, it is the development of Sakai knives from the late 16th century to the early 17th century for which the town is renowned.
In the mid-16th century, tobacco was imported to Japan from Portugal, creating demand for knives to cut the tobacco leaves. Sakai prospered as it was granted a monopoly by the government, and in the late 17th century, Sakai began to produce knives for food preparation. The unique techniques and mastery attained during that era still continue to be handed down to present day craftsmen.