Our Japanese-language reporter had no idea what to expect.

No matter what era you grew up in, there are always going to be times you look back on your youth fondly, and for some of us, the best memories center around food. And while we can’t go back in time to relive those memories, we can bring them to life by recreating those foods and their nostalgic flavors.

That’s why our Japanese-language reporter Aoi Kuroneko was excited to find a “Natsukashi no Showa Curry Roux” (“Nostalgic Curry Roux”), which recreates the flavor of curry from the Showa era (1926 to 1989). Though Aoi, who was born in 1985, isn’t quite old enough to have seen much of the Showa era, she found this product intriguing. What did Showa-era curry taste like? Is it different from curry today? Aoi couldn’t wait to find out.

But first, did you know that curry powder first arrived in Japan in the Meiji period? There’s actually Meiji-era roux that you can try out. Curry was introduced to Japan in 1905, so perhaps by the time the Showa period rolled around, it was already close to the version of curry that we know and love today. Just in case, Aoi checked the instructions on the back of the package to make sure she had everything she needed.

The recommended ingredients were meat of your choice, onions, carrots, potatoes, and of course the Showa Curry Roux. Hm…so exactly the same as curry today. The only difference was probably that the Showa curry roux was in powder form and not the blocks that many Japanese curry roux come in.

Even though it seemed like she’d be making curry like always, Aoi made sure to follow the instructions on the back of the package. The first step was to cut the ingredients into whatever size she preferred.

Then she fried up the vegetables and meat…

And poured in water, brought it to a boil, and simmered it until cooked. Then she turned off the heat and added the roux before turning the heat back on to low.

In short, the preparation steps were exactly the same as present-day curry, which was kind of a let-down. Aoi had expected something slightly more…Showa about it. Perhaps if she had one of these metal servers to put the finished product in?

Well, perhaps the Showa-ness would come out in the flavor. The finished curry did have a slightly yellower tint to it than most present-day Japanese curries. Ready to find out if it tasted any different, Aoi took her first bite…

It was very similar to a ready-made curry for kids since its spices were very faint. It wasn’t spicy at all, which made it kind of mysterious. With most curries today, the flavor and fragrance stick with you for a little bit after eating it, especially on your breath. But there was none of that with this curry. It had a very clean aftertaste, and Aoi guessed that she would be able to have a meeting with an important business client five minutes after eating a bowl of Showa curry without worrying about her breath.

While a lot of the “best curries” these days have complex spice mixes, hidden flavors, or luxury ingredients in them and are meant to stimulate all five senses, this curry is, by contrast, completely unremarkable, but in absolutely the best way possible. It’s a curry that doesn’t assert itself too strongly, which is actually a nice change, especially if you want something a little lighter on the palate. Aoi could confidently say that she’d never eaten a curry like that before; it was a very interesting experience.

The other thing that pleasantly surprised her about this curry was that, despite it being a powder, it didn’t form into clumps or have any trouble dissolving. It was very quickly and smoothly incorporated into the water. Also, the package was super easy to open, which is always a benefit. The ease of making this curry makes it fit surprisingly well into the busy lives of the people of Reiwa. Perhaps Showa Curry is as timeless as curry itself.

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