History and Culture of Japanese Food

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Despite the popularity of Japanese food in the West today, remarkably little is known about the history of a unique cuisine. This irresistible feast of a book, the first of its kind, is a detailed investigation of the food and dietary practices of the Japanese from earliest times to the present day. By focusing this most central of subjects, the analysis throws new light on Japanese history and on society as a whole. Dividing the history of Japanese dietary life into six periods, the author traces its development from the paleolithic and neolithic eras before rice was cultivated in Japan to the formative period between the sixth and fifteenth centuries, when a stable indigenous cuisine began to evolve. Typical dishes and beverages, ingredients, methods of preparation, origins, etiquette, the aesthetics of presentation, eating implements and cooking utensils are presented in the wider social, political and economic contexts. Breaches of chopstick etiquette, the design of Japanese knife blades, the underlying philosophy of Japanese haute cuisine presentation as "gardens on a plate," and the historical origins of sushi are among the many subjects covered in this rich and compelling work that presents a full portrait of all aspects of Japanese food for the first time, introducing the reader to home cookery and regional schools of cuisine that are virtually unknown outside Japan.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780710306579
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomichi Ishige is director of the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan.

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Table of Contents

Introduction--The Historical Framework 1
Part 1 The Dietary History of Japan
Chapter 1 The Prehistoric Era 7
1.1 The Paleolithic Age 7
1.2 The Advent of Earthenware 9
1.3 Jomon Society and Dietary Culture 12
Chapter 2 Establishment of a Rice-Growing Society 17
2.1 A Crop Held in Special Regard 17
2.2 Dissemination and Development of Rice 21
2.3 Rice Cooking 27
2.4 Sake Brewing 32
2.5 Fermented Fish and Flavourings 35
Chapter 3 The Formative Period of Japanese Dietary Culture 45
3.1 Historical Setting 45
3.2 The Taboo on Meat Eating 52
3.3 The Lack of Dairy Industry 58
3.4 Annual Observances and Rites of Passage 62
3.5 Place Settings and Table Settings 67
3.6 Cooking and Banquet Styles 71
3.7 The Role of the Monasteries 75
3.8 The Popularization of Noodles 77
Chapter 4 The Age of Change 81
4.1 Historical Setting 81
4.2 The Diffusion of Tea 86
4.3 The Impact of the 'Southern Barbarians' 91
4.4 Formation of a New Style 96
4.5 Change in the Frequency of Meals 101
Chapter 5 The Maturing of Traditional Japanese Cuisine 105
5.1 Historical Setting 105
5.2 City and Country 109
5.3 The Spread of Soy Sauce 113
5.4 The Emergence of the Restaurant 117
5.5 Snack Shops 122
5.6 Books on Cooking and Restaurants 124
5.7 The Ainu 128
5.8 The Ryukyu Islanders 133
Chapter 6 Changes in the Modern Age 141
6.1 Historical Setting 141
6.2 The Resumption of Meat Eating 146
6.3 Milk and Dairy Products 153
6.4 Entry of Foreign Foods 155
6.5 Zenith and Nadir 158
6.6 New Meal Patterns 162
6.7 Integration of Foreign Foods--A Model 167
Part 2 The Dietary Culture of the Japanese
Chapter 7 At the Table 175
7.1 Gohan--Framework of the Meal 175
7.2 The Rise of the Table 178
7.3 The Tabletop as Landscape 187
7.4 Chopsticks and Table Manners 189
7.5 Etiquette--As You Like It 194
Chapter 8 In the Kitchen 199
8.1 The Secularization of Fire and Water 199
8.2 From Wood Fire to Electric Rice Cooker 202
8.3 The Knife--A Sword for the Kitchen 206
8.4 Restaurants--The Public Kitchen 213
Chapter 9 On the Menu 219
9.1 Soup and Umami Flavouring 219
9.2 Sashimi--Cuisine That Isn't Cooked 224
9.3 Sushi--From Preserved Food to Fast Food 227
9.4 Sukiyaki and Nabemono 231
9.5 Tofu and Natto--Meat for Vegetarians 236
9.6 Vegetarian Temple Food 240
9.7 Tempura and Oil 244
9.8 Noodles and Regional Tastes 248
9.9 Pickled and Preserved Seafood 253
9.10 Mochi, Confectionery and Tea 257
9.11 The Dynamics of Sake and Tea 262
References 267
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