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Eating Raw Eggs, One of the Reasons the Japanese Are Thought to be Crazy?

While I was exploring the mystery of Japanese Curry, I found another interesting habit.

Adding a raw egg onto Curry!!

According to a very interesting blog that I found, the habit of adding a raw egg to Curry ranges especially in the Western Japan. Have a look at the map showing the geographical distribution.

 

041114curry-eggmap13-thumbnail2

Information from Etekichi’s blog

 

Blue coloured prefectures are where a raw egg is added to Curry, while people living in Red coloured prefectures cannot believe this habit.  Purple ones are neutral.

Since this blog was posted in 2004, it can be too old and the range of “REOC” (Raw Egg On Curry)” has been expanded.

 

Why do they put a raw egg on a Curry in the West??

The solution of this mystery should be a famous restaurant called “Jiyu-ken” established in 1910 in Osaka, where a curry with a raw egg is served.

This curry is called “Meibutsu Curry”, which can be translated as “Specialty Curry”, and the recipe has never been changed since it was invented by the founder.  In their official website it says,

In those days, since there was no electric rice cooker with a keep-warm function, it was hard to provide a nice hot (temperature-wise) curry, which was the dream of the founder. Through a trial-and-error process he invented this recipe. By mixing hot curry sauce and rice he was able to serve hot curry-rice even though the rice was not warm. In order to make his curry special also from the nutritional point of view, he decided to put a raw egg, which was a luxury food at that time.

 

jiyuuken

Meibutsu Curry of Jiyuu-ken in Osaka

 

A suspicion arose to me… Didn’t they have a problem of salmonella? Outside Japan, with a little bit of exceptions, it is generally thought that eating a raw egg has a risk of poisoning by salmonella and in some countries it is prohibited by law to serve raw eggs in restaurants…

We can be so sure that the eggs in Japan are safe now. So safe that we can eat them raw as well as fish.

However, how was the situation in Meiji period?

I wonder when the Japanese started to eat raw eggs… Speaking of dishes which we eat with raw eggs what occurs to me first is Sukiyaki.

As I wrote in the previous article, “Finally Solved the Mystery of Washoku“, Sukiyaki is a dish which was invented soon after Meiji Restoration. It is a dish of sliced beef with vegetable slowly cooked in a sweetened soy sauce based sauce in a pot at the table and eaten with beaten raw eggs.

sukiyaki

Sukiyaki while cooked in a pot

 

sukiyaki2

Sukiyaki, when eaten with a beaten egg

 

But I found that in Tokyo Sukiyaki was served without a raw egg at first.  It was not called Sukiyaki either and it was called “Gyu-nabe”.  Surprisingly, they say Sukiyaki and Gyu-nabe were different but after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, when many restaurants in West opened their branches in Tokyo, these two dishes were mixed up and united as Sukiyaki.

Why is Sukiyaki called Sukiyaki?  Literally “Suki” means “like” or “love” and “Yaki” means “roast”.  There’s an agricultural implement called “Suki” (spade) but it should have no relation to this dish.  It is one of hypotheses but restaurants specialized in Sukiyaki used to be near red-light_district and it might have been some kind of a dish for “lecherous men”!  If so, it is very logical that they used to eat meat which was thought to be medicine with raw eggs, which also were famous for energy agent, before doing something.

 

Wisdom is better than strength and sexual desire is better than salmonella…

 

Joking aside, to sterilize salmonella you need to heat in 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes or for some seconds in higher than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).  So, ladies and gentlemen, Eggs Benedict or Sunny Side Up are not secured as well as raw eggs.  Also Custard, Tiramisu, Zabaione and Caesar salad can be dangerous…

I found these website regarding to the safety of eggs FYI.
ABC Health & Wellbeing “Reduce your risk of raw-egg roulette”
Incredible! “Eggs & Food Safety”

 

I don’t mind at all eating raw eggs not because I’m too eager to have sex but maybe because I’m accustomed to it.  But there should be a “trust” toward producers and I buy only the eggs of the producers that I trust.  However, you cannot count on me because I’m the one who eats a big plate of Steak tartare, Tartare di manzo, every time I visit Turin at any cost, I mean although I know that I will have a terrible stomach ache afterward.  I eat it because I love it.

For your information, it is prohibited by law to  serve raw meat in restaurants in Japan…
にほんブログ村 歴史ブログ 日本の伝統・文化へ
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語の日記(和英併記)へ

 

piatto-pronto_dettaglio_ricette_slider_grande3

Photo of Steak Tartar from DonnaModerna.com

 

RESTAURANT INFORMATION OF JIYU-KEN

Address: 3-1-34 Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6631-5564
Access: 2 minute walk from Namba Station Exit 11
Business hours: 11:20 – 21:20
Closed on: Mondays

 

 

 

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