Washoku 「和食」: a delightful taste of moment

Washoku 「和食」: a delightful taste of moment

Washoku meal at Mt Norikura

A pleasing washoku meal at Mt Norikura, located on the borders of Gifu and Nagano Prefectures

Traditional Japanese cuisine – also known as washoku (和食),  is greatly based on experiences and balance. The washoku sequence of dishes is arranged in an harmonic pattern, in accordance with the weather and the environment.

In washoku cuisine, it is important to make the main ingredient shine on its own with its natural flavors.

For example, on the first days of Spring, the cold breeze and the gentle sun announce the end of the harsh and intense Winter. The snow melts from the forest trees and rivers. The flowers are about to bloom. Vegetable sprouts pierce the thin layer of remaining ice. During these days, the first wasabi, bamboo shoots and mountain vegetables (sansai, 山菜) are at their best. You are able to appreciate the sublime freshness, bitterness, sweetness and saltiness of the season, in a garden covered partially by the snow.

 

Starting route of Mount Norikura
After that delicious washoku meal, it is time for some hiking and sightseeing.

 

Washoku dishes are usually not packed with flavor, which is probably the reason why you may often hear that “washoku is boring”. If you are into strong flavors, that is a quite understandable frustration. To be honest, I could not get what make people so fascinated with this cuisine when I was younger. However, nowadays I strongly believe that if you enjoy food, you should try appreciating washoku.

Why? Because washoku cuisine runs on the opposite direction to the conventional cuisine, often packed with strong sauces and spices.

Mindfulness

Understanding washoku requires a meditative thinking, you must become more sensitive to small amount of seasonings and ingredients’ extreme freshness. These ingredients are the season’s blessings, requiring a great deal of care and attention with the environment.

Since 2013, washoku has become one of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The decision was justified with the fact that washoku favors consumption of natural and locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, basic knowledge and skills related to that cuisine (e.g. the proper seasoning of home cooking) are passed down in the home at shared mealtimes. In other words, not only it is a respectful gesture towards the nature but it is also a social and cultural practice.

I would like to try bringing more information about this topic on this blog, starting with a deeper study on dashi, the soul of Japanese cuisine. I think this will be good for me and I will be happy to present this for everyone around the world.

Stay tuned for more! Meanwhile, feel free to explore our tag washoku and see some of our recipes!

 



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