Japan's 2022 "dish of the year" reflects a post-pandemic world

Two presenters of Japan's food "dish of the year" lifted a box to reveal a savory meal shrouded in steam (see image below). In the past, Japan's dish of the year, selected by the Gurunavi Research Institute to reflect the culinary "symbol of the times," has included foods such as chicken breasts, mackerel, and tapioca. But the 2022 winner — a year still suffering from pandemic PTSD — represented more than just a specific food, and gave kudos to Japan's evolving gastronomic lifestyle instead.

And this year's winner is … (drumroll) … frozen food!

From CNN:

The prize is intended to highlight evolving food trends in Japan. …

The institute says the pandemic has led more restaurants to freeze their dishes, mainly for takeout. Flash-freezing methods have allowed chefs to maintain the integrity of the dish, with some even giving frozen sushi a go. …

Traditionally, Japanese families would commonly buy fresh vegetables among other ingredients from the grocery store daily. Mothers and wives would make bento boxes for their husbands and children in the morning.

But the pandemic and changing gender roles have transformed this way of life.