Some of those "new" recipes were introduced to Japan long before my grandparents' missionary friends arrived. Western foods made inroads into the Japanese diet during the 16th century, when Portuguese traders introduced eggs. (Until then, chickens had been considered sacred, so neither they nor their eggs were eaten.) By the end of the 19th century, people all over Japan had begun embracing even more Western foods, like beef (which had also been banned for the previous 1,200 years), because the Meiji emperor believed that the foods would help to "modernize" Japanese society. At the time my mother was born, such ingredients were reasonably well known in Japan, but few families embraced them as my grandparents did.