Speaking of rice

Rice holds such a special place in Japanese culture it becomes very political.
I couldn’t get into the complexities in my story about the latest effort by the USA Rice Federation to push Calrose in Japan.
Japan’s market was closed to rice until 1995.
The government allows in only the amount of foreign rice it has to under WTO requirements called “minimum access.”
Much of it comes under what’s called “ordinary tender,” which means it never enters stores or restaurants or our stomaches as kernel rice.
(Such rice become processed as crackers, sauces and other kinds of food, sits in storage for emergency, becomes foreign aid or even animal feed, according to the government.)
Only 100,000 tons a year enter the market under SBS, which stands for “simultaneous buy and sell.” And that’s the only kind of foreign rice you eat as real rice that looks like rice.
Any rice that dares to enter Japan any other way faces a 770 percent tariff, so no one is crazy enough to bring in rice that way.
And in a new strategy, Calrose medium-grain rice will be coming into Japan by SBS virtually for the first time ever.
SBS is a kind of bidding system and so the lower the price, the bigger the margin the government gets.
And so the name of the game is cheap rice.
No wonder the Americans have been losing ground to the Chinese in recent years.
In the past, U.S. rice farmers tried to conquer this market by growing fancy short-grain Japanese-style rice like Koshihikari and Akitakomachi.
USA Rice Federation official and rice farmer Michael Rue says there’s no scaling back on Koshihikari and Akitakomachi production, although the effort to export those grains to Japan has failed.
The consumption of American Koshihikari and Akitakomachi has grown not only in the U.S. but also elsewhere (besides Japan) because of the global popularity of sushi!
Mr. Sawaguchi in the photo in this link hopes someday to go abroad to advance his career _ which means he’s going to be making sushi with foreign rice, he said.
And so he needs to get used to it, he shrugged.
A kind of internationalization of sushi working backwards _ requiring a young Japanese man who’s a master sushi chef to learn how to work with non-Japanese rice.
His dish “Beef on a Griddle Sushi” combined sushi with sukiyaki _ served with milky half-cooked egg (seen toward the front of the plate) and sukiyaki sauce (he is pouring it).
It’s still unclear whether his dish is going to be served at the sushi store where he works.
But “Sun Souffle,” the creation by the winner in my story, Mr. Suzuki, is almost certain to be added to the menue at the Palace Hotel.
Mr. Suzuki said his two children drew a picture of his dish the day before the contest and wrote “Ganbatte Papa!”
He looked like he was going to cry when he won the award.
He also won the top award in the voting from regular folks chosen to be part of the panel of judges.
Appealing to the experts and the masses must be nice _ compliments to the chef.