Bread in the Land of Rice and Noodles
The traditional staples in Japan are rice and noodles, but bread is freely available, which is a boon for visiting Westerners. Many of the bakeries have French names, such as Dominique Geulin, and are in the basement level of department stores, or are run as separate stores, often also as a coffee shop. Most of the bread and pastry goods are done in the European and/or American style: we can find the processed, packaged, “cotton wool” bread that’s so common in the USA, but also quite good French-baguette style loaves. However, it’s interesting that the ordinary Japanese person seems to like and prefer very soft bread, so much more of the cotton-wool variety is available. To make it even softer, they like bread that has more rice flour—then the texture actually gets more cake-like, sort of sponge-y. When we had our cheese and wine party at the lab, Satoshi suggested we also buy the soft rice bread! So, we did. When in Rome….
The bakeries, especially in the fancier department stores, also have patisserie-type goods, as in France—lovely cakes and pies, beautifully decorated in the French style, but sometimes with a local twist, such as little cakes that look like a mound of soba noodles. Or a gorgeous-looking cake with pieces of pumpkin, in honor of Halloween.
A classic example of how a cuisine is adapted to the local preferences.