Table Speech


Initiation Speech
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January 27, 2010

Mr. Yoshiharu Ishibashi
Mr. Hiroshi Tonomura

The History of Castella”

Mr. Hiroshi Tonomura
President of Fukusaya Co.,Ltd.

 Castella is a confectionery brought to Japan around the mid 16th century by missionaries from Portugal. Sugar was already produced in Spain as early as in the 13th century. “Bizcocho,” the original form of Castella, was recorded in the Spanish documents of the 14th century. It was similar to a hardtack, a nonperishable food, which was loaded on the around-the-world voyage by Magellan in the16th century.

 Spanish cook Juan de la Mata first introduced beaten-egg white in his cookbook published in 1747. Soft-type “bizcocho” came to be produced since the mid 18th century, as the egg-beating technology advancement allowed meringue-form production. This “bizcocho” was born at the highlands located in the center of Iberian Peninsula named the “Kingdom of Castile,” the country that laid the foundations for modern Spain.

 Portugal is another birthplace of Castella. Portugal became independent from the Kingdom of Castile in 1143. The leading Portuguese cake “Pan-de-lo,” similar to Madeleine, is also referred to as the original form of Castella. “Pan-de-lo” first appeared in the cookbook written by Queen Dona Maria in the 16th century. The name originated in the roughly-woven silk gauze called “lo” then imported from China. When this cake is baked, its soft texture looks similar to the thin and sheer textile of “lo”.
Castella was born in Spain as bizcocho, and was gradually brought to Portugal where it developed into various forms. The name originates in the Portuguese term “castella” referring to Castile. Missionaries from Portugal introduced it as the “cake from the Kingdom of Castile”.

 Castella was brought to Japan, together with Christianity and firearms. The Portuguese first landed on Tanegashima Island in 1543, and Francis Xavier came to Kagoshima in 1549. The Jesuits started to build churches in Nagasaki in 1569, and the recipe for Castella was brought to Nagasaki as European cake. In 1587, however, Hideyoshi Toyotomi ordered expelling Jesuit missionaries, and trade with Portugal was banned in 1639. Japan entered the period of national seclusion and trade only with Netherlands was permitted in Dejima in Nagasaki for 280 years, till the re-opening of Japan to the West at the end of the Tokugawa Period.

 Castella was born in Spain and Portugal, and developed into a unique Japanese confectionery over so many years. Castella is a simple sponge cake made of eggs, sugar, flour and thick malt syrup. Yet its simplicity is re-appreciated today, in this time of mass production and mass consumption using preservatives. I am determined to maintain this traditional taste faithful to the original recipe, so that Castella will always be appreciated by people of all ages.