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Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan$
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Eric Rath

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520262270

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520262270.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan

Eric C. Rath

University of California Press

This book traces the development of Japanese cuisine from 1400 to 1868. It discusses previous research on Japanese foodways, as well as cuisine in other historical settings and the ideas of a few contemporary chefs working in Kyoto, Japan's present-day self-proclaimed “culinary capital.” The book examines the work of the most elite culinary experts in late medieval and early modern Japan, the hōchōnin, who traced their lineages and art back to the earliest periods of Japanese history. Their vocation crystallized in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when they formulated distinct styles of food preparation and began to write treatises on culinary art. The chapter also describes a collection of recipes inspired by Iberian foodways, considers ruptures in the old culinary practices that were facilitated by the introduction of foreign ingredients and cooking techniques, and discusses the rise of a publishing business which produced different types of cookbooks for a wider audience. It also comments on the use of menus found in published collections in the early modern period as vehicles for the imagination.

Keywords:   Japan, Japanese cuisine, cooking, cookbooks, hōchōnin, culinary art, menus, chefs, foodways, recipes

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