Mar 7

I’ll Make It Myself!: Add a Dash of Cultural Imperialism: Japanese Food and Cooking (1956), Part 1

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.


My friends, knowing I love food history, gave me a copy of an English-language Japanese cookbook as a parting gift. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about SCAP (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers), the US presence in Occupied Japan from 1945-52. In grad school, I wrote about SCAP decrees regarding film, and the micro-management of Japanese media to “promote democracy.” This is a bit of a different look–not a government decree from above but a cookbook created by and for the post-Occupation (1956) expat who wants to make Japanese food at home in Japan. Griffin’s cookbook is a very telling sociological text in that it captures the general colonialist attitudes of the expats toward Japan as an occupied nation and of gender norms (for both Japanese and American women). Additionally, the book provides insight into the introduction of Japanese cuisine to Americans and to the US through its explanations of ingredients and dishes as well as the translations of some of the terms used.

Join me on this multi-part descent into the bowels of cultural imperialism in the kitchen!

Click HERE to read MORE.

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