A rich, salty, and steaming bowl of ramen noodle soup climbed its way onto the international culinary scene and, from Tokyo to New York, is now a symbol of the cultural prowess of Japanese cuisine. In this highly original account of geopolitics and industrialization in Japan, George Solt traces the meteoric rise of ramen from humble fuel for the working poor to an international icon of Japanese culture. Ramen's popularity can be attributed to political and economic change on a global scale. Using declassified U.S. government documents and an array of Japanese sources, Solt reveals how the creation of a black market for American wheat imports during the U.S. Occupation of Japan (1945-1952), the reindustrialization of Japan's labor force during the Cold War, and the elevation of working-class foods in redefining national identity during the past two decades of economic stagnation (1990s-2000s), all contributed to the formation of ramen as a national dish. This book is essential reading for scholars, students in Japanese history and food studies, and anyone interested in gaining greater perspective into how international policy can influence everyday foods around the world.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction. National Food 1 1. Street Life: Chinese Noodles for Japanese Workers 2. Not an Easy Road: Black Market Ramen and the U.S. Occupation 3. Move On Up: Fuel for Rapid Growth 4. Like It Is, Like It Was: Rebranding Ramen 5. Flavor of the Month: American Ramen and "Cool Japan" Conclusion. Time Will Tell: A Food of Opposition Notes Works Cited Index