Ceremonial Banquets

Eric C. Rath

in Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262270
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947658 | DOI:
Ceremonial Banquets

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In premodern Japan, the knife ceremonies enabled “men of the carving knife” (hōchōnin) to showcase their occupational skills at banquets in brilliant displays of carving fish and fowl, as both an entertainment and a religious ritual. The most formal of these banquets was the shikishō ryōri, which might be translated as “ceremonial cuisine” or “ceremonial style of cooking.” The early and detailed culinary writings (ryōrisho) of hōchōnin include information not only about knife ceremonies but also recipes, model banquets, table manners, and the significant role of inedible dishes in banquets as markers of artistry and metaphor. The characteristics of medieval culinary texts can be described in terms of what these writings lack in comparison to modern cookbooks or even early modern culinary books. This chapter describes how Japanese cuisine is served at ceremonial banquets. It describes the Culinary Text of the Yamanouchi House, which contains an example of a honzen meal. The chapter also discusses shikisankon, inedible snacks that accompany ceremonial drinking, as well as shikisankon and sake, decorative servings, serving shapes, and a soup called zōni.

Keywords: Japanese cuisine; knife ceremonies; ceremonial banquets; cookbooks; shikisankon; sake; zōni; honzen; cooking; shikishō ryōri

Chapter.  13624 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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