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Soul of Sake: A refined fermented rice beverage called sake.



The internationalization of sake has presented many challenges for the sake industry.   In order for sake to appeal to a broader range of consumers - since the people who matter most ( young Japanese ) don't drink it-   sake has to be presented in a way that is more palatable to Western drinkers instead.   And in order to achieve this, sake has to be paired with more untraditional dishes, even spicy dishes,  like in the case of nigori sake ( cloudy sake), which  is supposed to work well with spicy Thai food dishes.     Apparently there’s supposed to be some play on the tastebuds that make the nigori taste like coconut even though there is no actual coconut in the sake.  


The problem here is do resturateurs  change the food or the drink?   It was only a matter of time before the American palate would  evolve to appreciate more delicate and nuanced  flavor profiles.   About 30 years ago when Mr. Yoshida introduced  teriyaki sauce to American style grilled chicken, most Americans were comfortable with slathering their chicken with American style BBQ sauce, either that, or something ketchupy and thick.   You could wash that down with any watery American lager which tasted sort of like carbonated mineral water mixed with brown tea.    In reality, who cares what you drink with your overly sauced teriyaki chicken…?   Whatever works, right?    Pizza and coke, right?   Sake and ……?   Sake and Japanese food.    Or, uhhh….We are getting to that part…



The elitist and the Eurocentric chefs and Japanese entrepreneurs have big plans for Japan.   They are devising a way to totally reinvent the idea of authentic Japanese dining by incorporating more and more foreign concepts into the national cuisine of Japan.   There was an article in the Times the other day about an ambitious plan to reinvent the earthquake ravaged area of Tohoku by turning it into a  wine producing region.  Nothing could be so wrong about this, but I assume I am the only person who sees it this way.     


I believe that sake has reached a major crossroads as well as more and more Japanese women acquire a more sophisticated palate.   Their eyes are in Europe; dreamy bloodshot eyes, like they are possessed by the great white ghost of Charlamagne himself the most brutal Christian in history.  You steal the daughters of Yamato and Japanese men encourage it, just like they encourage the exploitation of their own natural heritage by exporting sake overseas!    Why not export the culture too.   The exportation of ideas is fine, but just because domestic  sake consumption is on the decline doesn't mean you need to kick up exports of the national beverage.   A vigorous plan needs to be in place to re-market sake to younger drinkers here in Japan first before mass exporting overseas.    If the next generation doesn't acquire a taste of its own national beverage, it's not going to matter how many geeky white people love the sake abroad.   


Originally, the fathers of sake brewing made sake for the Gods, and they in turn were blessed for it.   For their loins brought forth beautiful Japanese daughters who would later grew into beautiful Jukujo, the mother’s of all of Japan.     Sake was never intended to be a drink for men only.  It was a drink created to be enjoyed by men and women who love the Japan that I have come to love.    The Musashi Plains, Mount Fuji, Izumo Taisha, Ise Shrine,  and so many more places that all  embody the poetic apotheosis of this nation.   


The soul of sake is in its prismatic dew drops that roll down the legs of a succulent debutante draped in black  kimono.    What it is not is a white mans reinvention of the goddam wheel?   You cannot improve on it, no matter how many time you add fruit juice to it.   You shouldn’t eat it with a greasy chili cheeseburger either.   Sake is nuanced for god sake.    


In America they love to experiment with unique food parings.    Some food experts will go as far as pairing bananas with ketchup, dark chocolate with parmesan, french cheese with almond cookies.   Even chili-powder and vanilla ice cream.    Recently, in America, some sake experts are pairing nihonshu with pizza and cheeseburgers.   Japanese sake and spicy Thai cuisine.   I do not understand these pairings.  


I like simple food with Japanese sake.  Nothing spicy, nothing sweet, nothing oily.   I love sake with finger foods and delicately  nuanced delicacies that make you think when you eat.   I think sake and fresh food pair well together.  Dry and easy to drink with dryer types of sake.  


Kanpai!






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