NAPLES--“Naporitan” spaghetti, which was created in Japan after World War II, has been exported to its namesake Italian city for the first time, although don't expect to find it here on local menus anytime soon.
The dish, named after the southern Italian city, is typically cooked by drenching soft spaghetti in ketchup.
To promote the port city of Yokohama with the spaghetti, where the dish is said to have been invented, a group calling itself the Nippon Naporitan Gakkai (the Japan Naporitan academic society) was formed in 2009. The group organized a tasting in Naples on April 28, with a stall at an animation event, where many people interested in Japanese culture were gathered.
In Italy, no ketchup is used in pasta. Seeing spaghetti cooked with the red paste in a pan, some Neapolitans looked surprised and others frowned.
They had their own feelings about the import: “Seafood should be in it if it claims the name of Naples, a port town,” one person said. “The spaghetti is too soft,” another complained.
Despite those comments, 70 plates sold for 5 euros (530 yen, or $6.63) each.
Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris showed diplomacy when he tasted the dish and proclaimed, “Good.”
Naporitan is said to have been developed at the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama, which was taken over by Occupation forces immediately after World War II.
The dish was apparently named Naporitan because tomato dishes are called Naples style in French cuisine.
Kentaro Komori, 30, a member of the “Naporitan society” and executive of a rice snack firm, spoke about the dish at the animation event in Naples.
“Spaghetti was born in Italy and reached Japan through the United States, and people love Naporitan,” he said. “We want to spread this history.”
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