What are major characteristics of traditional Japanese food, and how has it been influenced by geography and religion? Japanese cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of many political and social changes throughout Japan. Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonality of food, quality of ingredients and presentation. Japanese food is well known all over the world for its low fat and nutritional values. The Japanese food might appear bland and less spicy because they don’t use spices as they prefer to retain the natural tastes of the food. The balance of flavor, freshness, elimination of artificial flavors and retaining the real flavor of the fish, aesthetic beauty of the dish served are the can be attributed as the characteristics of a traditional Japanese meal. Japanese food is said to be seasonal. Vegetables, beverages and fish are consumed according to the climate in Japan. The people in Japan are well accustomed to the seasonal eating habits and it is so popular that even the presentation of the dishes and the ambience on the table changes according to the seasons. For ex, using green bowls in spring and using glassware which looks liked chilled with ice cubes in summer and warm wooden bowls in winter are few of the presentations followed by Japanese. Japanese concentrate on quality and presentation rather than quantity, almost all the foods served are served in minimal quantity so that the diner enjoys its quality. There is also famous Japanese saying “stand up from the table satisfied rather than full” which also indicates the importance of minimalist food intakes which keeps makes up for the healthy diet habits. The Japanese view of a meal is one major characteristic which influences the west as well. Any traditional Japanese meal is made up of a soup, rice bowl, side dish, pickle, sauce and a beverage. Desserts are added to the meal in the later 19th century. Japanese consider a meal should supplement appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein required so a good Japanese meal should consist of all the above.
History and Its Influence:
The Japanese food can be categorized as a combination of Chinese and Korean eating habits. Rice is considered as the staple food of Japanese, rice is included in almost every meal in the day. The consumption habits of rice have been descended from the Korean peninsula and the cultivation techniques are learnt from the Chinese. Also tempura a dish from Portuguese has been adopted in Japan through trade. In the Heian period consumption of domestic animal meat has been prohibited and later all the mammals has been included in the prohibition. Few people in mountains used to consume the game and fowl. Hence the entire population was dependent on the marine food which is not categorized as meat. Later in Kamakura Period, which is also known for its Buddhist practices people are forced to eat only vegetables, however apart from Buddhist monks’ people in Japan were not strict on this vegetable diet. In the later 19th century eating meat has been allowed for the general public by the Emperor Meiji. He even went as far as staging a New Year's feast with all animal meats in 1872 designed to embrace the Western world. This change in custom was identified as the act to catch up with the western nations. Since the use of cattle was only for plowing even the dairy products are not very popular in Japan. In Meiji’s rule use of dairy products and slaughter houses were introduced. In the 20th century the fast paced lives of Japanese forced them to eat food prepared outside the home to accommodate the eating times into their busy work schedules. This change brought a new revolution into the Japanese Diners to compete with other restaurants. Dinning out became an everyday necessity and it is also considered as a social event to meet and greet people. The food at restaurants is available in either Chinese style where noodles is used as a substitute for rice and...
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