When something’s good, it’s often said to be “the best thing since sliced bread.” If you think about it, this saying doesn’t really make any sense – sliced bread is rubbish, it’s boring, and you’d have to be completely bonkers to believe it was mankind’s last great invention. That said, here in the UK, sliced bread is incredibly popular and people buy it almost all the time. Occasionally they’ll break the routine with a seeded bloomer (at the weekend, as a treat) but other than that it’s sliced bread or nothing.
Compared to Britain, other countries are much more adventurous, bread-wise. In this series we’ll be looking around the world at some of the most unusual breads you can put in your lunchbox. Just be sure to grab some travel insurance before you jet off to try them.
Melonpan and currypan | Japan
Melonpan is a type of Japanese bun that looks like a melon and also sometimes contains melon. It’s made from enriched bread dough covered in a crispy cookie layer. And yes – chocolate-chip cookie dough can be used. If anyone’s going to Japan, please can they buy one of these and post it to me?
Another Japanese specialty is currypan; a deep fried bread dough with a curry centre. It might sound a bit strange – like a savoury doughnut where, instead of raspberry jam, you get a portion of Japanese curry – but I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t be delicious. Again, if anyone’s going to Japan, please can you send me a currypan? I don’t mind if it’s in the same envelope as the other one, just as long as they’re well wrapped.
The importance of these breads to Japanese culture is easy to see – the most popular cartoon character among under 12s is Anpanman, a superhero whose head is a bread roll full of red bean paste. Amazingly, the animated series (which also features Currypanman and Melonpanna) has over 1,000 episodes – it’s difficult to imagine a cartoon based on Hovis products being so successful.