History and Culture of Japanese Food by Naomichi Ishige


“Until recently in parts of western Japan the customary breakfast, even for farm workers, was tea gruel (chagayu) made by boiling rice in water with salt and a cloth bag of low-grade green tea.”

“On this date [March 3rd] in Heian Japan, courtiers would stroke themselves with paper dolls and then float them down a river, in the belief that they were purifying themselves by transferring and setting adrift the evil spirits that dwelled in their bodies.”

“So was the only dairy product in use in ancient Japan. The Engi shiki records that, ‘So is made by boiling milk down to one-tenth the volume.’ It is also known that so was transported in baskets, indicating that it had a solid form.”

“In some districts it remained customary as late as the twentieth century for a woman to stay in a different building from her family and prepare her meals on a different hearth during lying-in or menstruation.”

“Eating meat for the purpose of curing an illness, known as ‘medicine eating’ (kusurigui)…”

“Mochi, or cakes of pounded glutinous rice, is the most typical of the foods eaten on hare [extraordinary sacred] days.”

“It was mandatory for portions at a festive meal to be so generous that they could not be finished, and that usually applied to sake as well.”

“In Korean dining etiquette, as in Europe, the plates are not lifted to the mouth but remain on the table at all times, and food is carried to the mouth with a spoon and chopsticks. Koreans are apt to scorn the Japanese custom of holding bowls of rice and soup up off the table while eating from them as ‘beggar’s manners’ (beggars of ancient times ate as they walked). The Japanese, meanwhile, believing that chopsticks are properly used to grasp mouthfuls of rice and lift them to the mouth, tend to look upon the Chinese custom of shoveling rice from a bowl held to the mouth as coarse behavior.”

some quotes I found rather consuming from The History and Culture of Japanese Food by Naomichi Ishige

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