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Advanced Japanese Lesson:おふくろの味






Have you ever heard of the expression ofukuro no aji or “mother flavored”?

Ofukuro means mother. The sentence construction is the same as “banana flavored” and “apple flavored”, but you don’t lick your mother and taste her with “mother flavored”.

“Mother flavored” means “a meal that has been made by your mother”. It’s especially used when you’re an adult and you miss the home cooked meals that you grew up eating during your childhood years. Unlike meals at restaurants, home cooked meals vary in ingredients, flavoring and method of cooking from home to home. And since the taste that your own family had been eating contains many memories with your family, your “mother flavored” is thought as likeable.

For the Japanese, the foods that come to mind when they hear “mother flavored” are the Japanese everyday food on the table such as miso soup, simmered meat and potatoes, burdock root and more. Additionally, more men than women miss “mother flavored” and tend to feel that it tastes good. The reason for this is thought that because in Japan, there are more situations where the women cooks, and can use the flavor they’ve been eating as a base for cooking, whereas the men don’t have much of an opportunity to recreate “mother flavored” by cooking for themselves.

By the way, the word ofukuro has been used since the Muromachi period, and there’s a theory to its origin. The representative theory is that since the mother managed money by putting it in a bag, the mother was called fukuro or bag, and the polite prefix o was added onto it, thus making it ofukuro. However, the accurate derivation is unknown.