Many restaurants in Japan have plastic food displayed outside, showing off the (supposedly) fabulous dishes available inside. And whilst in some ways it’s a slightly odd practice, I won’t knock it, as if a menu turns out to be incomprehensible, there remains the last resort of escorting the waiter/waitress outside and pointing at the desired dish.
Now don’t laugh. I’ve done it. And on more than one occasion too. Although as you can imagine, it’s a tad embarrassing.
What I didn’t realize though, was that apart from being a gaijin safety net, these plastic foodstuffs are part of a multi-million yen industry. Apparently it all started 80 years ago in Gifu Prefecture, and current fake food masters get plenty of orders (and money) for their hand-crafted delights.
These artisans can conjure up lettuce with just a bit of green-coloured wax softened in hot water. And with some cheese and tomato coloured paste on a plastic pizza base, topped with a bit of airbrushing magic, they can produce a mouth-watering pizza.
Or alternatively, instead of going through all that trouble, a few pieces of garishly red plastic can simply be slapped on a plate and passed off as beef.
Although it has to be said that the lettuce underneath is a nice touch.