Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oishii: Washoku & the Five Principles

I recently borrowed this wonderful book from the library: Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh and I think that this may have to be one I invest in for my own cookbook collection.  Besides the incredible recipes, Andoh explains the philosophy and aesthetic behind the cooking.  Washoku is how the Japanese refer to their own cuisine (as opposed to western-style food), and it literally translates as "the harmony of food." In traditional Japanese cooking there are is a "set of five principles that describe how to achieve nutritional balane and aesthetic harmony at mealtime."  Over the next five weeks, I plan to explore these principles and share what I'm learning.  Please join me in this adventure!

Every meal should include foods that are red, yellow, green, black and white.  This makes sense nutritionally, as we know that the more colorful fruits and vegetables tend to be the most nutritious.  Aesthetically, this also makes for a beautiful (and delicious-looking) presentation. Ever since I read about this concept in Andoh's book, I've been more mindful about the balance of colors in the meals I make.  She points out that this is something that works in all cuisine, not just Japanese cooking.

Let me know your thoughts and how this element is reflected in your own culinary endeavors!

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