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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
Japanese cuisine is renowned for its meticulous preparation and refinement in presentation. The food is served in small, carefully arranged portions, with emphasis on visual appeal. This applies particularly to food in restaurants and in the households of what might be called loosely ‘the upper classes’, but it is a feature which is also apparent in the daily fare of ordinary people.
Because the islands that comprise the Japanese archipelago are mainly mountainous, very little land is available for agriculture, and, even with the most modern technology, harvests are frugal. This meant, certainly up until the modern era, that the food of poorer people was of the most basic. This underlay the intiatives of the Meiji Restoration to modernize Japanese diet (and that meant to open it to outside influences), if only to ensure the stature and robustness of the armed forces were equal to their new imperial tasks. The Japanese have traditionally learned to husband their food resources and to appreciate quality over quantity.