It’s not often I miss English food. Given that my mother wasn’t British, I never really grew up eating standard English meals. As a result the food I like most is usually readily available here. Occasionally I do miss things I can’t get in Japan. After a particularly vicious bout of tonsillitis I found myself craving Heinz tomato soup only to find a distinct lack of it in my local supermarket. There were lashings and lashings of corn soup but the tomato soup was conspicuous by its absence. Also, there only seemed to have canned soup of the condensed variety on the shelves. This caused a great deal of confusion when I came to prepare it, not having tried to decipher the instructions beforehand.
It’s not just soup though, enter a branch of Mr Donut, the most popular doughnut repository in Japan, and you will notice a vast amount of ringed doughnuts and no hole-less doughnuts at all. This didn’t affect me for a long while but one day I went into a bakery and saw a vast amount of doughnuts that looked as though they were deep-fried.
This seemed quite exciting to me, by this point in my Japan adventure I had realised food that I was used to in the UK can have a completely different version here. Japanese curry is different from curry sold in the UK, for example, which in turn is different from that which is sold in India. Well, I assume that is the case, I’ve never been to India. Anyway, I took this deep-fried bun to the register, paid my money, bit into it and got a shock.
I had discovered that Japanese curry is not only a different taste but it is often found inside deep-fried doughnuts. Known as curry bread, these buns are never referred to as doughnuts at all. That would just be silly.
This terrible tale put me off eating any kind of filled doughnut until I could read the little sign next to them that told me what is inside. Once I could, I began to discover something shocking. I began to realise that there are no jam doughnuts in Japan. Raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant nor even gooseberry varieties are available. Instead the Japanese prefer beans inside their doughnuts.
Not just any bean though, azuki bean. Azuki is a sweet bean and the paste inside the doughnuts is further sweetened by adding tons of sugar.
Happily I have found one regular flavour of filled doughnut while here. It may not be my favourite but it has its fans.
Lovely. Yellow. Custard.