Previous studies examining food choice from a cross-cultural perspective were based primarily on quantitative research using the Food Choice Questionnaire (FCQ). This study suggests ethnography as a complementary research method in cross-cultural food choice studies.
While use of the FCQ resulted in findings of cultural differences in food choice processes, within a preliminary motive list, ethnography allows the exploration of new, possibly culture-specific motives for food choice. Moreover, ethnography allows a deeper understanding of the cultural background of food choice processes in a studied culture.
Using Japan as a case study, this research demonstrates the use of ethnography to argue that variety is a primary motive for food choice in contemporary Japanese culture. Variety is hence regarded here as a part of a larger food culture attribute, an “adventurous palate,” which can also provide a background for previous FCQ findings (Prescott, Young, O'neill, Yau, & Stevens, 2002).