There are not enough purists left in the food world. In the West, and no less here in the East, food is gradually moving toward the indistinguishable middle. The globally homogenized products of contemporary fashion, music, art and architecture can be created and received interchangeably in most of the world's major cities — and food hasn't escaped the trend. Hamburgers and fried chicken pieces — and their "fine dining" counterparts, filet mignon and tuna steak — have unfortunately become what unites us all.

This incorporation of food production and distribution has created a generation of hip-hop-dressing, MTV-watching young people who neither know nor appreciate their food roots. As obvious as this trend is in the West, I have witnessed the phenomenon here in Japan as well.

Perhaps the problem lies in the sheer choice available nowadays. That choice is good is an axiom Westerners accept unquestioningly — but when the fragile human animal is faced with a superabundance of choices, good, not-so-good and outright bad selections are made. There is no easy answer; one cannot legislate culinary enlightenment.