These days, North Americans seem to be obsessed with sushi and sashimi. Most people know the difference between sashimi and fatty tuna or salmon belly sashimi texture and various sakes.
When you enquire about their other favourite Japanese food the knowledge seems to run dry!
Yet Japanese eat many other foods other than sushi and sashimi.
There is comforting udon (wheat noodle) soup cooked in dashi topped with delicate seaweed, sliced scallions and other greens.
Soba (buckwheat) noodles are thicker than udon, but more satisfying. Buckwheat noodles have a strong odour, detested by some, loved by others.
Dashi is a dried bonito tuna or dried sardine stock for miso soup; a staple of delicate Japanese cuisine.
Soba and udon noodles cooked in dashi and embellished with fresh spring vegetables can be most satisfying and refreshing after a long and cold winter. Northern Japan can be extremely cold and winters are long.
Some cooks top udon and soba soups with tofu, others prefer toppings of bits of beef or vegetables. Seafood may also be used to incorporate easily digestible protein.
Regardless of garnishes, soba ad udon can be enough for lunch.
Then of course is ramen. Nowadays, grocery store shelves are full of ramen in cups to which one has to add only boiling water. Convenience ramen has a mushy texture, and offers little in the way of taste or nutrition, but is filling.
True ramen is based on spicy dashi and bean sprouts, crunchy scallion slices, tender slices of well-cooked pork, and al dente noodles. Ramen can be flavoured with soy for an additional taste dimension.
Experts rank the Japanese cuisine is after French, Italian, and Chinese cuisines. It offers much more flavour, delicacy, texture, and colour than sushi and sashimi. All one has to do is explore the rich eating culture to appreciate its delicacy and inventiveness.