Thursday, 2 June 2011

Plastic food

I have always been bemused by the amount of plastic food that is used here. Many restaurants use it for display purposes oustide their buildings or proudly shown in a glass case or in the restaurant window. This is often to show a visual for potential customers, but has often proven very useful for me when my limited caveman Japanese is not enough to convey what I would like to eat. I just point at what I want and hope for the best. I have to say, most of the plastic food looks pretty unappetising, but I'm always amazed at the artistry involved in making it.

On saturday, Laura and I found ourselves in Kappabashi after the fish market. It is a whole street full of shops that offer everything for the kitchen, and amongst those are shops catering to the plastic food clientele. I was amazed at how expensive these pieces are, but I guess some people would see them as almost works of art. We were lucky enough to catch a demonstration going on of how to make a lettuce.

It turns out that the "food" is made from wax. It starts out as melted wax and is in separate pots depending on colour. A ladle-full of the wax (in this case, one of green and one of white) is placed into hot water. It is then quickly submerged and the two wax colours merge and become "wobbly". This wobbly piece of wax is then quickly lifted out of the water and wrapped up in a small ball to resemble a lettuce and then quickly dunked in cold water to set it. The finishing touch is to cut the "lettuce" in half. This lady looks very proud of her achievement!

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