Is sushi popular in Japan
Treats just to look at - shokuhin sampuru
Whether curry dishes, hamburgers or sushi: restaurants in Japan often present appetizing dishes in their displays. But no matter how tasty they look, these dishes are not intended for consumption. Rather, they are replicas, and the restaurants offer their customers the opportunity to see their food offerings at a glance, as if on a three-dimensional menu. These replicas, called shokuhin sampuru, are typically Japanese. These small works of art with their extremely realistic appearance are made by proven experts using ingenious techniques.
Japanese craftsmanship of the highest perfection
The first replicas of food were made in Japan around ninety years ago for a department store restaurant in Tokyo. Since then, they have spread across the country. Before that, restaurants had displayed real dishes, but their shape and color changed more and more over the course of the day. The department store restaurants in particular, with their high customer traffic throughout the day, were therefore looking for a way to be able to display food over a longer period of time without it becoming unsightly. This led to the idea of creating replicas of food - shokuhin sampuru - to use.
The replicas look exactly like the real food and are the same size, shape and color as the dish actually served. The shine that is typical for some dishes or the grill marks are also realistically reproduced.
Shokuhin sampuru were initially made of wax, but today plastic is mostly used because of its better durability. A silicone mold is made from the food, which is then filled with liquid plastic. The whole thing is heated to approx. 150 ° C and in this way a cast model is created.
The next step is then to paint these models. It takes a great deal of skill to reproduce the colors of the dishes in all their shades. The painter first examines every detail of the real dish and then uses a fine brush to apply oil paints to the plastic models. Finally, the whole thing is covered with a glaze to protect it from dust.
Replicas of dishes reproduce every detail of the real dish, for example the browned areas of ham and eggs or the difference between a bloody or medium-fried steak. Almost all replicas are made to order, as identical dishes can differ in shape, color and the way they are arranged depending on the restaurant.
Homemade replicas of food
Kappabashi or in English “Kitchen Town” is a district in Tokyo where you can find numerous shops for everything to do with cooking and eating - just a stone's throw from Asakusa with its well-known tourist attractions. In the shops you can find everything from dishes and pots to replicas of dishes. In the showrooms of the companies that manufacture these replicas, courses are offered almost every day in which interested visitors can make their own replicas. These workshops are now very popular, especially among women and children.
In the courses, participants learn how to make replicas from wax as a traditional material. The challenge for them is to create replicas of typical Japanese dishes like Tempura or to make vegetables such as lettuce.
To real Tempura To make it, shrimp, vegetables and other ingredients are dipped in a flour and egg batter and then deep-fried. To e.g. a Tempura To simulate with shrimp, liquid wax is poured in strips from a paper bowl into 40 ° C warm water at a height of about 60 cm. The key here is to pour the wax from exactly the right height to make the dough for the Tempura to replicate. The wax runs on the surface of the water and then forms a kind of uneven sheet. When it is then brought into the right shape around the prawn replica, the dish looks really crispy and easy to bite.
Of course, it is not easy to make replicas of dishes that look as precise and detailed as the replicas made by experts. But the participants in the courses have a lot of fun trying to make their own replicas look like the ones in the restaurant windows.
There are also special sets with which you can shokuhin sampuru can make it yourself at home. These contain all the materials required for the production of pizza, parfait or spaghetti, for example, which are turned on a fork and seem to float in the air.
Replicas of food as accessories
Recently, miniature replicas of real food in the form of key fobs, cell phone tags or bookmarks have also enjoyed great popularity. You can find replicas of almost all dishes: from sushi or fried rice to cakes, fruits and biscuits. Even if these are miniature replicas, the individual accessories are from great attention to detail to the fat in a bookmark in the shape of ham or to the dripping cream in a mobile phone tag in the form of a cake. Everything looks good enough to eat. These small and inexpensive replicas have become popular souvenirs with Japanese and foreign tourists visiting the replica food shops in Kappabashi.
Shokuhin sampuru were invented in Japan, where making all kinds of things became a high art. Today, these replicas are an indispensable part of Japanese food culture. One aspect of the pleasure of eating out in Japan is the choice of dish based on the replicas in the windows. All of the dishes look so appetizing that it is really difficult to choose.
© Web Japan 2012
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