Japanese make a lot of Japanese original words even sometimes ignore original meanings.
First of all, I don’t mistake spelling because I am going to talk about Japanese staple food, “Napolitan Spaghetti”(ナポリタンスパゲッティ), not food in Naples, Italy.
In this article, I am using “Napolitan” on purpose which is close to Japanese pronunciation.
There is a popular pasta dish is called “Napolitan”, “Napolitan Spaghetti”, or “Naporitan” but it is further from “Pasta dish” in Naples, Italy.
“Napolitan spaghetti” is a “Japanese style stir-fried pasta with tomato ketchup-based sauce, bacon, ham, or Japanese style winner sausage, mushrooms, and vegetables”.
As the general story, the original “Napolitan spaghetti” was invented by Shigetada Irie, Head Chef ofNew Grand Hotel in Yokohamaafter WWII.
The hotel had been used as the accommodation for U.S. troops, and then the Chef often saw troops had spaghetti pasta with tomato ketchup.
He decided to make something comfort dish for them and made a special sauce with fresh diced tomato, tomato paste, sliced onion, and olive oil.
It became based on his “Napolitan spaghetti”, today it is stir-fried spaghetti with sliced ham, mushrooms and ketchup-based sauce for easy cooking at home.
About using tomato ketchup instead of tomato sauce,
there is another story that the sister restaurant of the New grand hotel, “Center grill” started using tomato ketchup because tomatoes were pricy foods at the time.
After that, it became one of comfort food for Japanese people, at home, at the Kissa-ten (traditional coffee shop, tearoom, cafe ), and the cafeteria.
“Napolitan Spaghetti” and Coffee
Due to the high economic growth period after 1955, the number of Kissa-ten had increased throughout Japan, especially in large cities, office workers enjoyed light meals with a cup of coffee as lunch or snacks.
Kissa-ten became the place for not only having coffee but also eating light meals.
Since then, “Napolitan spaghetti” became one of the popular meal and every Kissa-ten started arranging the dish with own recipes.
However, since 1981, the number of Kissa-ten has dropped by half, and there are complex reasons behind disappearing long-loved Kissa-ten.
- People can get coffee easier than before, at home, coffee stands, and convenience stores.
- People cut down spending money because of the bubble burst, sluggish economy, and Lehman shock.
- Trends of western-style stylish cafes and self-style American coffee chains among young people.
Therefore, the popularity of “Napolitan spaghetti” has been down and it sounds kind of old fashioned or cheap lunch among young people.
Napolitan Spaghetti as Nagoya Meshi
In Nagoya, there is a very unique local “Neapolitan Spaghetti” called “Teppan Napolitan” or “Teppan Italian”.
“Teppan”(鉄板) means “a cast iron griddle” in Japanese, and one of Kissaten in Nagoya originally started “Napolitan spaghetti” on a flat cast iron griddle.
Due to “Nagoya meshi Boom” in Japan since early 2000, “Kissaten food” was getting revival gradually.
“Nagoya Meshi”- It is the general term of the local cuisine of Nagoya and surrounding cities, which is a cultural, unique yet new taste and got tremendously trend in the early 2000s in Japan.
Nagoya Meshi is typically using with local salty red “miso” or local “tamari” soy sauce, and these seasonings give addictive taste to people from other regions of Japan. Also, there are new Nagoya Meshi was pioneered in Nagoya.
“Retro Boom” in Japan
A little after “Nagoya meshi boom” in Japan,
“Showa” Retro Boom has been popping since around 2019, especially among millennials.
“Showa” era is the period from 1926 through 1989, somehow the nostalgic old-fashion design is now trending.
As well as fashion, the trend of nostalgia foods included “Napolitan Spaghetti” came back in Japanese culture, millennials got satisfied with updating pictures from “Retro Kissa”, that they call old fashioned kissaten.
There is “Retro boom” in 100 yen shop too.
So I believe that you understand “Napolitan spaghetti” in Japan is not “Italian”, it is “Japanese staple food” after talking about “the history”, “the relationship with Kissa-ten” and “the revival trend” of “Napolitan spaghetti” in Japan.
“Napolitan spaghetti” is comfort food that Japanese people remind the nostalgic era, also new trendy food for millennials.
If you want to have an experience of Japanese nostalgia, go to a “Retro Kissa” and taste “Napolitan Spaghetti”(ナポリタンスパゲッティ).
Do you want to walk with me feeling nostlgic Nagoya, Japan?
Do you want to make homemade Napolitan Spaghetti???