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Horse Sashimi

Japanese cuisine joins French cuisine on the UNESCO World Heritage list as a world’s priceless cultural heritage. And rightly so. Japanese food, in Japanese called “washoku”, is known for it’s unique precision and detail in preparing, cooking and presenting food. Even sometimes eating comes with very carefully prescribed rules as well, e.g. sushi etiquette.

So what is washoku exactly? As the meaning is broad and means all Japanese food, it includes sushi, tempura, udon, soba, ramen – no doubt all styles of Japanese food you have heard of before. But it also includes some you might not have heard of like yakimono (grilled or fried dishes), itamemono (stir fried dishes), chinmi (foods of delicate flavour) and more. In essence, Japanese food is based on the principles of small dishes, carefully prepared based on the seasons and seasonal ingredients and presented in a beautiful way – because the eyes also eat, as the Japanese believe.

I am deeply appreciative of Japanese food – the methods, the types, the decorative presentation and of course the unique flavours. So it is with great pleasure that I see washoku raise in profile on a global scale. And more importantly, being on the UNESCO world heritage list means that the traditional ways will be preserved. This is especially important in this global world, where foods, trends and fashion travel so widely…and the impact on Japan has been that Japanese people are actually eating less Japanese food.

At a steady pace fast food and other Western dishes are replacing Japanese food in the diets of Japanese citizens. As evidence, rice consumption has fallen 17% in the last 15 years. You cannot travel more than a few blacks in Tokyo without seeing fast food or coffee shops that are seemingly growing in number daily. And while globalization means a wider culinary experience for every world citizen – I, for one, am thankful that Japanese food and the culture of food will be meticulously preserved for future generations of foodies.

 

(horse sashimi pictured above) 

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