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The Pride of Shizuoka: Sakura Ebi/Cherry shrimp!


With Spring comes the season for a specialty found in Shizuoka Prefecture only!
“Sakura Ebi” or Sakura shrimp is a vey small (maximum 5 cm) crustacean caught in the Suruga Bay of Shizuoka Prefecture. Most of ships are anchored in Yui City (part of Shizuka City city) and Fujikawa Harbours.

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The shrimps are caught in special net baskets. They are then siphoned through special “tubes” with the baskets kept just above the water. Later all sea creatures inadvently caught in the nets are released alive back into the sea! Who said the Jpanese are not environment-conscious?
Moreover, for the first time in Japan, the Association of Cherry Shrimps Fishermen decided in 1965 to strictly limit their yearly total catch to preserve stocks. A salutary initiative long before normal citizens became aware of conservation and environment!

According to long traditions they are put on the market immediately for auction.
Many fishermen open their own sushi restaurants, bars and often their catches of the night until early in the afternoon before taking a well-earned sleep.

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For people who prefer them as sushi, the gunkan style is the most appreciated!
Most French and Italian Restaurants in Shizuoka City and around will serve them in quiches!

(Pic taken at Izutsuya Restaurant, Yui)

Another popular way to eat them is of course as a tempura called kaki-age, either with fresh sakura ebi in season or frozen/dried ones.
Fishermen use to dry their catch for sale and export until the government had the great idea to run an expressway just along the harbour!
The shrimps are now dried along nearby Fujikawa River at the foot of Mount Fuji, creating large quaint rose expanses in the most useen for locations!


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What is wrong with fast food?

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By Patrick Harrington

_What is wrong with fast food?_

by Patrick Harrington

A lot.
The two big advantages are speed and price, but there are a number of
common grievances:
1. Food quality ranges from poor to crap.
2. Food is cooked from frozen, further diminishing the quality.
3. Premises are awful plastic-furnitured, fat-smelling cubes.
4. Staff wear false smiles and couldn’t care if we have a nice day or not.

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

On a street corner in Thailand I once had a flash-fried vegetable dish cooked in a heartbeat. The vegetables were all local and fresh, and the chef simply spun them around a hot wok and emptied them straight onto a plate. This was the fastest food I have ever eaten. Delicious and wholesome.
And I’m sure the readers here can quote lots more examples that they have encountered on their travels.

If it can be done in Thailand, then why not in Japan, the US, Europe etc?

What is wrong with fast food? Nothing, in the right hands.

Local Food: green, healthy and social.

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By Patrick Harrington


As this article appears more current by the day I decided to post it again for the attention of all my new friends at Foodbuzz!

From all the excellent articles in the Shizuoka Gourmet blog the one which had most impact on me was the shortest one, with a quirky title that hid a very serious issue: ‘Shimizu goes bananas’, in March 2007.

As we all know our use of the earth’s resources is exceeding the earth’s ability to sustain itself. It is calculated that we would need an earth almost twice the size to sustain our thirst for resources.

It may seem obvious but one way of significantly reducing our over-use of resources is by consuming local food.

We can massively reduce the amount of transportation. Can you imagine how far strawberries must travel to keep the supermarkets of Northern Europe stocked year-round?.
And we can also reduce or eliminate the the processing and packaging, not to mention the advertising. Plus there is reduction in the need for chemical preservatives and irradiation.
Growing local food also results in a tendency toward multiple cropping and better crop rotation. This can lead to reduced pesticide use, minimization of crop failure and better preservation of indigenous biodiversity.
In addition the by-products, eg manure and silage, may be used productively rather than be viewed as nuisance waste.
However multiple cropping requires multiple skills and a wide range of tools and machinery, but it utilizes human labour more efficiently as each crop will have a different cycle.
The green dimension of local food is something we can all probably agree upon.

Secondly there is also the health dimension. As mentioned above the amount of processing and the need for pesticides and chemicals can be reduced by using local food, but it is also thought that better nutrition also results.
Regional and seasonal conditions affect the compostion of plants and animals and consuming local food provides an optimal nutritional fit.
Having said this, science has been unable to prove nor disprove this idea, but anecdotal evidence abounds. A simple example is the consumption of oranges in Shizuoka in the winter months. The vitamin C from the oranges helps combat the increased risk of catching colds at this time of year. A more radical example would be the traditional Japanese diet of rice, fish and green tea, which surely provides a better nutritional fit for the people of Japan than a diet of burgers, french fries and cola.

Thirdly is the social dimension. Local food can help protect local jobs and shops, and increase food security. Support for local food may also result in the continuation (or re-discovery) of community structures and values. And local food often carries inherent traditional and cultural symbols for a community, something which is perhaps undervalued in today’s global society.
Though it may be counter-argued that international trade is a method of wealth redistribution, this is a highly complex issue, and evidence suggests that the wealth divide is actually widening rather than narrowing.

So the argument for local food appears to be a compelling one. But don’t get me wrong! I’m not advocating that we forsake all food from outside our local community. In fact it is ludicrous to imagine every region being self-sufficient in food. What would happen to Tokyo, or Finland, or Singapore?
And why shouldn’t Robert eat cheese, and why shouldn’t I eat bananas?

But cheese is now made in Fujinomiya, and bananas are now grown in Shimizu, which make them local (to Robert and me).

Admittedly there aren’t many places which can boast Shizuoka’s capability to produce such diverse foods, but I would urge a greater balance toward local food in the diet. There are significant green, healthy and social benefits to be gained. And local food tastes better too!