Tonight I was at a Japanese Temaki Sushi Bookalokal night. It was a truly inspiring experience, beautiful from start to finish. It was delicate, tasty,
When we started eating, the main topic of the conversation was Japan, our hosts talked about their country and what their life is like being away from home, things they miss and things they like. And typically Japanese things. So they told me Taco Rice is a Japanese thing. Uhm.
Turns out the high amount of Americans populating the island of Okinawa required, at some point, some kind-of-Mexican food to be provided for them (Americans, in Japan, wanting Mexican food, it makes a lot of sense!), since their taste buds were missing the taco thing that they had going on in the U.S. the Japanese came up with nothing less than Taco Rice. Talk about reinventing. Yes. Since they didn't have tortillas, they say, "we replaced the tortilla with rice, and we made Taco Rice". It sounds a little funny.
I found the following definition on Wikipedia:
Taco Rice is a Japanese dish and a popular example of Okinawan cuisine. It consists of taco-flavored ground beef served on a bed of rice...
I do have to say that I have a problem with "taco-flavored beef". I know I am gonna get technical here, but there is literally no such thing as taco flavor, since "taco" is the way the tortilla is rolled while containing any ingredient available at one given time, or even without any filling at all. The taco is the rolled tortilla, so it's quite impossible to give meat the flavor of a rolled tortilla, if you know what I mean. It would be like saying you will make sandwich-flavored chicken. You can't.
However, I do reckon that tacos are a well known Mexican meal around the world, and often get more credit than they deserve. In Mexico, tortillas are put on the table instead of bread. So the meal itself will not really consist of tacos, but people will eat whatever dish is served accompanied by a tortilla, which if they roll it with the dishes on the table will become a taco.
Later one of the hosts asked me if we had transformed other countries cuisine adjusting it to Mexico's tastes and ingredients. So I went ahead and took the sushi example, how we have a lot of sushi in Mexico but it includes ingredients like cream cheese or peppers. And how we've managed our own version of soy sauce with chiles toreados (roasted peppers). We actually mix the roasted peppers with soy sauce, sort of like a conserve and then we dip our sushi rolls in this supper spicy soy sauce. It's addictive.
So I guess we're even in culinary terms, as long as there's someone to eat it we're all happy. And hey, next time I'm in Japan I will go hunting for the real Taco Rice for sure (they say even KFC serves it, it's THAT popular).