About shokupan, or Japanese sliced bread
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my sudden yearning for making Japanese sliced bread. I was actually inspired to get the bread machine while writing my latest Japanese Kitchen column for the Japan Times, which is indeed about shokupan, or Japanese sliced bread.
As you can see from the article it's basically um...well, sandwich bread. It is an edible (but delish! to me anyway) edible napkin, like Wonderbread. Hence my guilt about craving it. But you know...the much lauded French baguette is really not that much better nutritionally speaking. ^_^ Like everything else, soft white bread needs to be enjoyed in moderation. (And I don't think that whole wheat bread is that much better for us anyway...if we want 'good grains' we should just eat whole cooked grains. So phooey to those wholegrain bread nutrition-snobs I say. (I do enjoy whole grain and alternative grain breads, but mainly for their taste.))
Anyway, as I noted in the article, the thicknesses at which shokupan is sold varies around the country. Since my Japan base, and where I grew up, is the Tokyo-Yokohama area, we rarely ever see big thick slices of bread. But in Kyoto for instance, this kind of thing is pretty normal.
This is cheese on toast that's about 3 cm thick. The cheese on top is very ordinary sliced processed cheese (cheese awareness in Japan is not that high yet...) and the bread is regular shokupan, but it was so delicious. It's served at a tiny cafe, which was about a 2 minute walk from the house of a family friend that I am allowed to stay at sometimes when the owner is absent. I had it with a cup of outstanding coffee almost every day for a week.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the article!