The menu at this year's Fourth of July party in Japan went healthy — in honor of the Obamas.
The U.S. Embassy, which played host to the Independence Day celebration, highlighted first lady Michelle Obama's advocacy for healthy diets, rich in fruits and vegetables. As part of her push, she has planted a vegetable garden at the White House.
Guests got a taste of President Barack Obama's favorites dishes, including California green gazpacho made from the kind of vegetables grown in the garden.
A chili served, meanwhile, was a lighter version — made with American turkey — that Obama himself likes to cook, according to the embassy. One salad used wild rice harvested in the American Midwest, while another tossed Alaskan crab and California rice.
“I love to eat, and so I always look forward to this kind of event,” said Jim Zumwalt, charge d'affaires, who is filling in until the newly appointed ambassador John Roos arrives.
But the annual event, which also serves as a showcase for American exports to Japan, offered plenty of other kinds of food, including McDonald's cheeseburgers, Domino's pizza and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Japan imports more than half its food. Much of that comes from the U.S., including vegetables, beef, M&M's chocolate candies, California wines and Oregonzola, America's answer to Italian Gorgonzola blue cheese.
Yukio Hattori, commentator on the “Iron Chef” TV show, who was a guest at the party, said the popularity of "fusion cuisines" in the U.S., which brings together various food cultures, has given opportunities to Japanese chefs.
“American food is now more than just hot dogs and hamburgers,” he said.