Friday, April 21, 2017

When in Hiroshima . . .

Okonomiyaki in every stage of cooking.
Greater Hiroshima is the home to 1.2 million people and 2,000 okonomiyaki restaurants.  We found the one run by a Guatemalan and his Japanese wife for 17 years. 

Okonomiyaki means grilled (yaki) what you want (okonomi).  Hiroshima style starts with batter on a grill that becomes crepe-like.  Then, they pile toppings: cabbage, seasonings, pork belly, fried egg, soba or udon noodles, and other things.  Squid (fried or not) and green onions were among the option available at Okonomiyaki Lopez.  The master chef must flip the materials over and back at the right time.

Although okonomiyaki had been around since the 1900s as an afternoon snack, after the A-Bomb, it became a survival food.  People used scattered metal as makeshift teppan griddles.  People scrounged whatever food they could and grilled it all together.  These days, the griddles are designed with precision so that the heat is evenly disbursed so the chefs can produce consistent products. 

In some cities, okonomiyaki still mixes everything together.  In Hiroshima, the layers remain distinguishable with a cut-able crispness to the cabbage (important to us for sharing). 

Fernando Lopez and Makiko (raised in Hiroshima) have an interesting story, which has been told elsewhere.  (Rice, Noodle, Fish by Matt Goulding).  One of their three sons is in Seattle.  We offered to show them around Portland if they make it our way. 

Onomiyaki is among the things to do in Hiroshima. 

Carp Fans
Another thing is professional baseball, the Hiroshima Carp. 

Reserved tickets were sold out, and the unreserved section filled up on the lovely night we attended (part of) the game.  Fans were fanatical.  Probably 90% of the crowd wore red and / or white team gear.  They chant together and enjoy ballpark food, which looks like the other food around town.  Noodle bowls, rice bowls, yakitori . . . .  Remember, “taco” means squid here.

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