Roadside Cuisine – Izu Peninsula
When driving in rural Japan you are never too far from a roadside inn, a place to rest, eat the local produce and stock up on food to take home to Tokyo. I found this place on National Road 414 running right down the Izu peninsula to the south west of Tokyo (Google Maps here). It is a wild and mountainous area full of wildlife so naturally one of the local specialities is boar! I tried some roast boar ham with mountain vegetable soba soup and a side dish of wasabi, another local speciality. Everything used in the cooking of this (apart from salt and cooking oil I think) is produced in the local area by local people using more or less sustainable and ecological ways of farming and hunting. And it tastes great too. I am lucky to still be able to enjoy this sort of food in 2013, most of my friends in other countries have never eaten 100% locally grown meals and I hope we can keep this way of producing food for the next generation to come.
Large parts of Japan’s forested mountains are nearly impenetrable by humans so hunting in these parts are really difficult, there is no such thing as flat terrain and hunters generally rely on well trained dogs to drive the boars closer to the hunters. In the old days boars would stay hidden in the forests but as more and more humans encroach on the boar’s living space there are more opportunities to find good food on farms and cities near the forests so in the last couple of decades wild boar damage on human agriculture has increased. There’s also fewer and fewer hunters to help keep the number of boars down.