Wtf…! Is that it? Just like that? All with simple tools and a bit of manipulation? Wow! As in WOW!!!
You see it in many restaurant front displays. You pass by it in food courts and look at it when you order food. And when you’re in Japan, almost all restaurants have it. Sometimes, it even looks better than the actual food you order. And I just found out that in Gujo, a city in Gifu (Central Japan), making fake food for displays, or better yet, food sample or food replica is a big industry. And it’s so fun making it!
Gujo City is where all it started when Takizo Iwasaki started the first commercial production of food replica (food sample) in 1932. It is said that the city supplies 70% of all of Japan’s food replica needs that you see in restaurant displays.
We streamed into the Iwasaki Sample Village, the company who pioneered the food replica industry in Japan and I was a bit uncertain if this will be a good visit. I’m not fond much on industrial tourism and all I can think of that this would just be another boring tour. But I was wrong!
Inside the workshop space we found out that we will be actually making food samples! And how? The demo was done by one of the staff aided by our guide who acted as an interpreter. I listened intently but when the first melted wax was poured into the basin of water to make lettuce and how she adroitly manipulated it to come up with a real looking lettuce, I was wide eyed and amazed!
I was in disbelief. The one who did the demo just skillfully made the poured green wax into a sheet, stretched it in some parts, pushed it down in another. She then gently crumpled it but not too tight, just enough to have spaces in between and voila! a perfect ball of lettuce! With a hot knife, she placed the ball into a contraption and cut it nicely, then dunked it in cold water to arrest the melting.
Next she demonstrated how to make fake shrimp tempura. It’s all about technique of how to pour or drop the wax into the water and wrapping the wax stick with a shrimp like tail end and, another perfectly made shrimp tempura that can really pass off as edible!
When it was time to try it out for ourself, I immediately donned on the apron, selected the pieces of plastic food and waited for my turn. When it was time for me to make mine, I was thrilled. For a first timer, and if you just follow how it is done, you can actually make it during the first try. I made fake lettuce, shrimp tempura, squash and eggplant. And I was just so delighted!
It wasn’t that boring after all! The hands-on part was really good as you get to experience for yourself how it is actually made. And what’s more, the sense of making one from scratch, in the form of wax and skillful manipulation into something that is almost real is what makes this fun. And when you tour around the displays? You will be in awe at how they were even able to replicate delicate and complex textures and many other food.
You should definitely try this one. It’s FUN.
Sample Village Iwasaki
250 Jonancho, Hachiman-cho
Gujo City, Gifu 501-4224
Thanx to Cebu Pacific Air for this trip!
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