Monday, December 23, 2013

Samurai Food Movie

If you like traditional Japanese food, you will love this film. How did the current amazing food culture here evolve? Well, we'll never know exactly, but Japan created a food culture that recently got UNESCO status. I agree with that, but I would also like to know more about what people ate back in the old days. Much of it came from the Buddhist temples, but here we have a fresh take on what made it all available to a lot of people.

Bushi no Kondate (Recipes of the Samurai) was released here on December 14, 2013 and I love all of it. The Japanese website has all kinds of bells and whistles, do explore bushikon.

The film illustrates dishes for all sorts of occasions—tai no karamushi (steamed sea bream stuffed with a mixture of okara bean-curd lees, pine nuts, ginkgo nuts, lotus root and others) for a wedding banquet; jibuni, which is a local stew containing duck meat or chicken, vegetables and sudare-fu (a type of wheat gluten) with soy sauce, sugar and other seasonings; and a massive banquet comprising numerous dishes on many trays, all cooked and served under strict protocol. In the film, the feast is held to celebrate the assumption of a new domain leader.

Yomiuri: Woman behind Japan’s savory past: Ueto stars in washoku film on heels of UNESCO listing


It confirms the story my food book in 2009, that this is a country with novel food culture roots, that needs to be protected and developed. Recognizing food as part of culture makes farming and all other aspects of food production a holy grail. Farming means caring about local biological diversity. You can't just take that a away from people. But, today, you also need to get back to the roots. Satoyama initiatives and teikei farming links to consumers (CSA) and organic farms and farmers markets are all a wonderful part of that.



Back to the film. Knifes are a big part of how chefs got this amazing cousine to evolve, thus the link to the samurai. But I also like how this film has a focus on the women who cooked, including Haru (Aya Ueto).

It also make me think, how to make people happy. Food is a big part of that. Feed your vassals right... Women like Haru in the Edo era must have had a lot of joy that history have not given them credit for.

Note that there was next to no meat in the Edo era. The amount of tasty seasonal vegetables and all kinds of grains meant that people enjoyed a healthy diet. Fermentation and other ways to preserve food were crucial. Sake and other drinks/foods developed using the koji strain of bacteria/Japan's national culture. Using that, we got miso and so much flavour that we still enjoy.

If you like sake, this is a film to watch!

Rice and other grains kept people more or less happy, unless there were troubles such as failed harvests. In such times, how did people here get by? Lots of fruit and nuts too, including chestnuts, that are common here in Saitama. Each region of Japan has some local food. No meat? A very Buddhist way of living. We need to come to terms with that as we deal with Japan's current challenges. Shinto did not condone meat eating, either. What happened since the military rise from the 19th century is another story.

Rice was also a rare treat for ordinary people... 

Do enjoy this film, based in rural Ishikawa prefecture. People in cities like Tokyo, bite the dust. You don't know a thing about culture ;)








No comments: