Food Culture in Japan

Food Culture in Japan

Food Culture in Japan

Food Culture in Japan

Synopsis

Americans are familiarizing themselves with Japanese food, thanks especially sushi's wild popularity and ready availability. This timely book satisfies the new interest and taste for Japanese food, providing a host of knowledge on the foodstuffs, cooking styles, utensils, aesthetics, meals, etiquette, nutrition, and much more. Students and general readers are offered a holistic framing of the food in historical and cultural contexts. Recipes for both the novice and sophisticated cook complement the narrative.

Japan's unique attitude toward food extends from the religious to the seasonal. This book offers a contextual framework for the Japanese food culture and relates Japan's history and geography to food. An exhaustive description of ingredients, beverages, sweets, and food sources is a boon to anyone exploring Japanese cuisine in the kitchen. The Japanese style of cooking, typical meals, holiday fare, and rituals- so different from Americans'- are engagingly presented and accessible to a wide audience. A timeline, glossary, resource guide, and illustrations make this a one-stop reference for Japanese food culture.

Excerpt

For the average American diner, knowledge about and interest in Japanese food seemed to be confined to a few popular dishes until fairly recently. American exposure to Japanese food was largely limited to Japanese steakhouse chain offerings and deep-fried tempura. One primary ingredient epitomized for the non-Japanese person Japanese food at its pinnacle—raw fish. However, authentically prepared Japanese cuisine using raw fish as its centerpiece was for many years unavailable outside Japan. The ingredient itself was also a major barrier to undiluted worldwide acclaim of Japanese cuisine. To the uninitiated diner decades ago, svishi (raw fish and vinegared rice balls) or sashimi (raw fish slices) were breathtakingly aesthetic in concept and very visually tempting, but all interest stopped there. Those who did not wish to offend their hosts surreptitiously deposited sashimi into a convenient paper napkin, or else swallowed it unchewed and washed it down with copious gulps of beer or saké.

It does seem an injustice that for a very long time Japanese food did not receive the widespread recognition that it deserves. Many first-time eaters, though bowled over by its aesthetic presentation, describe Japanese food as insipid, because the subtlety of Japanese haute cuisine, as demonstrated in the kaisehi, or tea-ceremony, style of cooking, is lost on palates expecting elaborate blends of seasoning. Highly seasoned Chinese or intricately sauced French dishes are more likely to win over experimenting palates. Palates have to be educated to fully appreciate Japanese food beyond the familiar stews, tempura (deep fried), and the lavishly seasoned grilled dishes. Tongues have to learn to become sensitive to the . . .

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