Changing China

Giant on the move

The Olympic rings in noodles and cucumber

August 2, 2008

Perky pork

What connects deep-fried pork cutlets, black and pink noodles and the Beijing Olympics? An appeal to Japan’s ancient fighting spirit or a clever marketing trick, depending on how you look at it.

All Nippon Airways served what appeared to be an ordinary, tepid airplane lunch on its Tokyo-Beijing flight – “katsu” pork with curry, beefsteak with a cheesy crust, “somen” noodles. But a look at its in-flight magazine revealed that in fact, the aluminium trays contained a small homage to Japan’s athletes, and each ingredient had been carefully selected for its pun value.

“Katsu” means “breaded cutlet” as well as “to win”*; the chewy, cheesy crust is meant to resemble a gold medal; the noodles evoke the five Olympic rings; the red snapper, in Japanese, is golden and therefore another symbol for sporting success. Even the cucumber slices were hollowed out to give them a ring shape.

And in case you still didn’t get the message, the headline in the magazine spelled it out for you: “Gambare, Nippon!” (“Keep fighting, Japan!”)

Photo by Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

Kevin Fylan adds: I bet there are plenty of other people doing Olympic-themed food. If you spot any puntastic examples, let us know in the comments.

* Note: This post was changed at 0257 on Sunday, August 3 to correct the translation of “Katsu”. See the comments below.


Doesn’t “katsu” mean to win?


Mike – you’re right, very sorry about that. It does mean “to win”. We’ll correct it.

Posted by Sophie Hardach | Report as abusive

Hat tip to Mike. Duly changed. We’ll write it out a hundred times.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

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