The Japanese love to make meals into something that’s pleasing to the eye as well as the stomach, a tradition known as 食の美 shoku no bi or “the beauty of food.” The ultimate embodiment of this concept is 懐石料理 kaiseki ryouri, the traditional cuisine of Kyoto in which a great deal of care is taken with the presentation of the food, including the design of the plates it’s served on. Since the Japanese love their seasons so much, what you’re served will depend on what time of year it is — in the fall your meal with have a momiji (Japanese maple) motif, while sakura petals may adorn your food in the spring. Kaiseki meals are served in courses similar to fine French dining (which the Japanese also love, probably more than the French do), and courses include sashimi, tempura, grilled fish, rice, and a meat course. To be honest, it’s not uncommon to have no idea what you’re putting in your mouth when you eat kaiseki (at least one dish will contain a flower that you’re free to eat, if you like), but don’t worry, everything is good. If you’re curious about Japan’s amazing food culture, check the J-List site for some cool Japanese cookbooks.
Kaiseki ryouri and the “beauty of food.”