How did one dine with a shogun? Or make Solid Gold Soup, sculpt with a fish, or turn seaweed into a symbol of happiness? In this fresh look at Japanese culinary history, Eric C. Rath delves into the writings of medieval and early modern Japanese chefs to answer these and other provocative questions, and to trace the development of Japanese cuisine from 1400 to 1868. Rath shows how medieval "fantasy food" rituals—in which food was revered as a symbol rather than actually consumed—were continued by early modern writers, who created whimsical dishes and fanciful banquets and turned dining into a voyeuristic literary pleasure. Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan offers the first extensive introduction to Japanese cookbooks, recipe collections, and gastronomic writings of the period. It traces the origins of familiar dishes such as tempura, sushi, and sashimi while documenting Japanese cooking styles and dining customs.
"This volume is a cogent reminder that to truly understand the importance of food in our lives, we must examine not merely its material role, but also its symbolic significance." Choice "There is no English-language research on the subject of early modern Japanese cuisine as extensive or imaginative." -- David Eason/University at Albany, SUNY Social Science Japan Jrnl