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Elementary School Lunch: 10/03 - a brief history of bread in Japan

Food, JapanKristina Pino2 Comments

Today, while my principal was enjoying lunch, he brought up that the word for "bread" in Japanese (pan) is borrowed, possibly from Portuguese or Spanish. It made me wonder - when did bread show up in Japan? His on-the-spot response was sometime in the 15th Century, which might be technically correct if that's when European missionaries started hanging out in Japan, but not quite, because those would have just been communion wafers.

I went ahead and asked our librarian, who said that bread has been in Japan since the Meiji period, which was only about a century ago (1868-1912), and a new wave of bread made it into Japan around 1945 (this makes sense - the US provided a lot of assistance, including food stuffs for Japan after WWII). But it didn't really catch on as a regular food item for the locals until about 40 years ago. So it's only natural that the Japanese word for "bread" is a borrowed rather than native word. Today, there are bread shops all over Japan, and you can also buy a wide variety of breads at your average convenience store.

Now that you've had your dose of history/culture, let's look at today's tray. We had hamburg steak with some tomato sauce, potatoes, vegetable soup, and some haiga (wheat germ) bread. The vegetable soup, naturally, also had some bacon in it, and the potatoes were seasoned with seaweed flakes. The hamburg steak consisted of a mixture of pork meat and beef.

Calorie count: 635