With world leaders set to gather in Hiroshima for May's Group of Seven summit, a food academy is aiming to make local favorite "okonomiyaki" pancakes a global hit with new twists that pay homage to member countries' cuisine.
A U.S.-style burger okonomiyaki and one featuring a German sausage and sauerkraut selection are among the variations organizers hope will prove beguiling enough to convince the deluge of summit-related visitors to take the recipes home.
A typical Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki involves layering wheat flour, cabbage, yakisoba noodles, pork and other ingredients that are cooked on an iron plate. The finished product is then doused in sauce and other toppings as per the diner's choice.
One world leader is already known to be a staunch Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki fan -- this year's summit head, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. With his constituency in the prefecture, Kishida's favorite food is purported to be his wife Yuko's take on the staple.
At an event held in late February, the Oconomiyaki Academy in Hiroshima, formed by restaurants serving the pancakes, debuted its seven variations for the seven industrialized nations, devised based on the results of a questionnaire filled in by respondents including foreign residents and international students in the area.
The academy says it hopes the recipes, which it has already distributed to its around 250 member eateries, will leave such an impression on attendees from participating countries that they will consider recreating them at home.
For the United States, the academy has opted to wedge the okonomiyaki inside a burger bun and drench it with cheese, while the British version is ladled with a helping of its enduring culinary symbol fish and chips, and the savory twist on the German version offers a surfeit of sausage and sauerkraut.
Italy's comes smothered in a special carbonara sauce, with the soba noodles doubling as spaghetti. Desserts have also been devised, with the Canadian okonomiyaki made using apple and maple syrup, and the French edition inspired by a flat pastry galette adorned with a fried egg.
Not to be excluded is the Japanese version of the dish, which is presented in its fundamental "Hiroshima soul food" variant of nikudama soba, which includes meat, egg and noodles.
Shigeki Sasaki, the academy's director, said that the G-7 summit is a "huge opportunity" for Hiroshima to bring its culinary culture to the world. "We've managed to put together a set of dishes that everyone from the participating countries will be able to recreate at home," he said proudly.