Q Why are the Japanese such gourmets?

A Japanese students who have been on homestay visits in the U.S. unanimously cite the monotony of American home cooking. Leaving aside the question of whether it is tasty or not, the standard fare served almost everyday is frozen food warmed up in a microwave oven.

On this point, the Japanese still try to serve a variety of food that changes with the seasons. Although Japanese-style food is the standard fare served in Japan, not only the ingredients but the art of cooking everything from Chinese, French and Italian food have found a place in the Japanese home, making the Japanese perhaps the world's best connoisseur of food.

While being gourmets, the Japanese have a penchant to develop a concept into an art and to pursue the art to the ultimate. Cooking experts appear on cooking competition programs on TV to test their skills against each other. Coupled with the above factors, the gourmet boom arose from the high economic growth enabling businessmen to enjoy a high standard of living on company entertainment expense.

It has also enabled housewives and young women to have a little extra money on hand to go out with friends to-eat at a variety of good eating places. The gourmet boom has resulted in a number of different ethnic restaurants such as Spanish, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Grecian in addition to the already existing Japanese, Chinese, French and Italian restaurants.