Supporters of soy and other sauces square off in ongoing difference of opinion among Japanese foodies.

Fried eggs have sort of a unique position in the Japanese culinary world. The style most familiar in the west, where you have an unbroken yolk in the center of a roughly circular white (called medamayaki in Japanese), wasn’t all that widely eaten in Japan before the country came into closer contact with other cultures. At the same time, Japan has its own kind of fried egg, called tamagoyaki, which is cooked in a frying pan and resembles an omelet in cube form, so the idea of cooking eggs in a pan isn’t completely foreign either.

The result is that fried eggs, in the medamayaki style, sort of straddle the division between Japanese food and Western food in a lot of Japanese people’s minds. That often leads to differences of opinion as to what the best choice of condiment is for them, and recently that debate flared up amongst the staff at famed anime production house Studio Ghibli.

Some of the animators said soy sauce was the best option, while others championed “sauce,” which, by itself with no other descriptors, in Japan usually refers to a Worchester-like sauce with savory and sweet notes. Still others were of the mindset that no sauce of any kind, and just a sprinkling of salt, is the way to go.

This being the Ghibli studio where the discussion was taking place, naturally company co-founder Hayao Miyzaki was in earshot. He weighed in with his opinion, and apparently it was weighty enough to swiftly settle the matter, according to the official Studio Ghibli Twitter account.

“Our debate over whether sauce, soy sauce, or salt is the best for fried eggs was immediately ended when Miyazaki-san simply said ‘Fried eggs are Western food, so sauce is the best for them.”

As convincing as the argument was for the Ghibli staff, though, it’s not airtight. The two foods “sauce” is most commonly added to in Japan are tonkatsu (pork cutlets) and croquettes. The first is generally considered Japanese food nowadays, and the second, though originally hailing from overseas, has sort of evolved into its own thing in Japan, so “Sauce is for Western food” isn’t a hard-and-fast foodie tenet. There’s also the fact that Japanese “sauce” tends to be a little sweeter than orthodox Worchester too, its flavor arranged to please Japanese palettes, so “Sauce for eggs” isn’t really adhering to historical precedent either.

Ghibli fan Twitter users were quick to offer their own opinions on the matter, chiming in with responses like:

“By [Miyazaki’s logic], we should start putting soy sauce on okonomiyaki [since it’s a Japanese food].”
“I guess I just always assumed he liked his eggs with nothing on them, or maybe just some salt. They don’t put anything on their fried eggs in Ghibli anime.”
“Those fried eggs in Laputa and Howl look so good!”
“All of a sudden I’m craving a tsukimi burger.”
“Anybody else with me on team ketchup?”

Seeing how varied the reactions were, the Ghibli Twitter account quickly staged a poll, which garnered 179,223 responses and produced the following results for best fried egg seasoning:

1. Soy sauce (53.1 percent)
2. Salt and pepper (31.7 percent)
3. Sauce (10 percent)
4. Mayonnaise (5.2 percent)

After the poll, Ghibli sent out a follow-up message. “We now understand just how important the choice of fried egg topping is to everyone. We quickly told the results to sauce supporter Miyazaki-san.”

Miyazaki’s response?

“Ah, is that so?”

Ultimately, the choice of fried egg topping is up to you. Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re going to be cooking breakfast for the director of My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, though, you might want to make sure you’ve got a bottle of “sauce” in your kitchen.

Source: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert image: Studio Ghibli
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s probably pouring a whole lot of black pepper onto some eggs right now.