Sep 3

Around Japan in 47 curries: Fukushima fire curry

Tom Baker (Chiba, 1989-91) is writing a 47-part series of posts on his Tokyo Tom Baker blog, in which he samples and comments on curries representing each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Those covered so far include Kumamoto Prefecture horse meat curry and Gunma Prefecture silk mill curry. Here’s an excerpt from his 17th installment, about two spicy curries from Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima Prefecture has a long history of recovering from geological disasters. Some of those disasters can be remembered through local curries.

One such curry commemorates the July 15, 1888, eruption of Mt. Bandai, a volcano near the center of the prefecture. The mountain had been a smooth, Fuji-like cone before it suddenly exploded due to a buildup of underground steam. The blast – which went largely sideways rather than up, similar to the explosion of Mt. St. Helens in the United States a century later – left behind an irregularly shaped mountain with four separate peaks. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the explosion could be heard from a distance of 50 to 100 kilometers, an avalanche of debris buried five towns and 11 villages, and ash fell from the sky along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, about 90 kilometers away. At least 461 people died.

Did I say there’s a curry that commemorates this event? Perhaps I should have said there’s a curry that cashes in on it. The design on the box of “Mt. Bandai Great Eruption Curry” is not exactly reverent. But I bought it in a souvenir shop at the foot of the still-active volcano. The people who live and work in such an area are entitled to a bit of gallows humor, especially more than a century later.

The back of the box includes warnings that children, pregnant women, and those with weak stomachs or high blood pressure should eat this lava-like curry with caution, if at all. So naturally, I was expecting something super-hot…

To read the full post, including a comment on radiation, go here.

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