French learn about Niigata’s cuisine

Kyodo

The Japan Cultural Institute in Paris held a seminar Saturday on the culinary culture of Niigata, focusing on the prefecture’s famous rice industry.

Parisians were briefed on the history of Niigata’s rice farming sector, which used improved drainage techniques to convert paddies frequently ravaged by river flooding in the 1950s into the magnificent rice fields that now produce the popular and well-known Koshihikari brand.

The seminar was capped by a small tasting session in which Setsuo Morimoto of the Bandai Silver Hotel in Niigata explained how to wash and cook rice. Morimoto, a noted promoter of local farm produce in Japan, also invited the guests to try their hand at making some “onigiri” (rice balls).

Association Niigata-France chief Tsutomu Homma, 66, said the humble white grain has come to represent the soul of the prefecture.

“I hope we have been able to convey that rice has come to symbolize Niigata through historic twists and turns and has become a product that we can present to the world with pride,” Homma said.