This is a guest post by Sam Fowey, who resides in Japan.
photo from Sushi Bytes
I recently learned of an interesting connection between katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowl) and Japanese police procedures. Apparently – and I realise that this may be an urban myth — katsudon is served in police stations to people under arrest. A Japanese friend dramatised the whole thing for me: “you’ve had a hard time, you must be so tired . . . and hungry. . . We’ll order a katsudon for you” / “Oh officer yes, I am, and (sniffle) I did it, I confess.” Apparently the association of katsudon with a scary arrest has become so established that in some cases a simple “we’re going to order katsudon” is enough to reduce a suspect to a confessing jelly.
So today I checked the katsudon story out on the web and it seems there is some truth to it. Or at least, there is some truth to the fact that people believe it — and that katsudon scenes were once a predictable feature of hard-boiled cop movies. Check it out here and you’ll even find a recipe for how to make one.
“If Quentin Tarantino were to make a hard-boiled film about Japanese gangsters, this is how a confession-inducing bowl of katsudon would look under police interrogation. What pinky-less Yakuza lieutenant wouldn’t fold under the pressure of this enticing bowl of breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets?”
And apparently it’s not just recently nabbed suspects who eat katsudon: “. . . it has become a modern tradition for Japanese students to eat katsudon before a major school exam . . . because “katsu” is a homophone of the verb 勝つ katsu, which means “to win” or “be victorious.” Same reason that their mums pack kit-kats in their exam-day lunch boxes, I presume — because kit-kat, pronounced Japanese style as kitto-katto, translates into “will certainly win.” Turns out there have been at least 45 different versions of kit-kat sold in Japan, most of them Japan specific. More than you need to know about Japanese kit-kats here.