Okinawa cuisine and food specialties

I could not visit Okinawa without tasting the local cuisine. Everyone knows the benefits of delicious Japanese food, but I also wanted to discover more regional dishes. In Okinawa, the specialty is 'goya champuru'. This is a typical vegetable that appears to be cultivated only on these islands, at least on Ryukyu archipelago. To give you an idea, it looks like a large zucchini, but with the granularity of a pickle. Since a picture is always better than a (strange) explanation, here is a photo of what goya looks like.

Apart from different dishes based on goya champuru, we enjoyed Okinawa Soba. This is a noodle and meat soup served in a bowl. The juice is similar to ramen, with Udon noodles. The meat served is generally boiled pork, accompanied by small algae and katsuobushi (a special preparation of tuna). Sometimes they also add 'naruto', a fish slice. Note that there are two other varieties of Okinawa soba: Soki soba and the Tebichi soba.

I also tasted 'awamori', a sake known as Japan's strongest alcohol. Okinawa's local beer, Orion, is pretty good although I retain a preference for Sapporo or Asahi.

A few statistics about Okinawa people who eat this kind of food:

  • life expectancy of people older than 65 years: 86 years for women / 83.5 years for men (one of the best in the whole world);
  • 15% of 'super-centenarians' (110 years) of the planet, whereas Okinawa has only 0.002% of the world population;
  • 0.054% of the population centenary (twice as much as the rest of the world);
  • 97% of the centenarians live without serious health problem;
  • 5 times less of the most serious and frequent diseases that affect humanity.

This Okinawa diet model is followed by physical activity and a life philosophy, from which we could learn a lot.

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