Deep Thought Wheat Gluten and Other Fantasy Foods

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:
Deep Thought Wheat Gluten and Other Fantasy Foods

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By the mid-eighteenth century, published recipe books focused increasingly on the intellectual appreciation of Japanese cuisine. Culinary historian Harada Nobuo describes these works as full of “amusements,” exemplified by the abundance of puns and wordplay in the names of recipes, particularly in the recipe collections Delicacies from the Mountains and Seas (1750) and Anthology of Special Delicacies (1764). These “amusing” cookbooks of the late Edo period did not represent a radical departure from earlier culinary writings. The novelty of the late eighteenth-century cookbooks rests less in their playful use of abstract qualities associated with certain foods and more in the fact that their authors, recognizing the capacity of existing culinary rules to make food signify other things, incorporated new references into the culinary code, including poetry, natural phenomena, and geography. Delicacies from the Mountains and Seas, for example, contains recipes for fantasy foods ranging from fried wheat gluten to sushi, pickles, sake, sweets, fish salads, and soups. Secret Digest of Exceptional Radish Dishes throughout the Land features recipes for daikon.

Keywords: Edo period; cookbooks; recipes; fantasy foods; poetry; geography; sweets; fried wheat gluten; daikon; Japanese cuisine

Chapter.  6351 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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