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Noodle wars: Japanese pastamakers take on the Italians

Japanese spaghetti makers, having decided to quit noodling around and get serious about competition from the Italians, produced a field of foreign chefs last week for a ``We Love Japanese Pasta'' cooking contest. The contest aimed ``to prove Japanese pasta's appeal and quality'' by having foreigners cook it ``with their motherland's characteristic seasonings,'' said Takashi Mitsui, chairman of the All Japan Macaroni Association.

A West German woman and her daughters dusted their entry with cocoa and sugar and called it ``Earthworms.'' An American couple used a topping of Louisiana gumbo. A Singapore chef made a curried concoction.

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The first prize of 200,000 yen ($1,100) went to a Malaysian version of fried macaroni.

Japanese pasta lovers now wrap 140,000 tons of pasta around their chopsticks every year, and 20 percent comes from abroad. About 85 percent of the foreign pasta sold in Japan is from Italy.

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