Food Forgotten Part V – Yūsoku

So how does hierarchy influence cuisine? Take for example the art of Yūsoku, imperial cuisine that has gradually faded over time. A traditional culinary form using symbols was an essential part of the chef’s training. It includes ritual, technique, and Shinto customs. The chef would dissect a fish without touching it. I am not sure exactly why and I presume that it was some kind of purification and offering. Certainly this ritual helped develop the strong connection between nature, man and his idea of aesthetics.

However the development of order, and form in food in the orient isn’t something new. The Japanese phrase “ichi-jū-sansai” also describes a certain order and hierarchy in cuisine, and helps define the importance of order. This order isn’t about the complexity of the recipe itself. The ingredients are simple, the recipe is straight forward, but the combination of foods in a specific order supports a different type of food and hierarchy. This is based on the importance of food combinations, a military discipline and diet that later was transformed into a classical cuisine served to court nobles and royal families.

It becomes obvious that food is much more than a tool for survival; it’s also a source of aesthetics, pleasure and status. Also it plays an important role in everyday life, and sometimes teaches us the importance of food and culture.

Categories: Curious About it?, Life Cycles

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