As I said in a previous entry, one of the things I felt the need to touch on was how important the image of the food was to the meal itself. Yes the mood had to taste good, yes the food have to taste CORRECT (which I covered in Part 3); but almost as importantly the food had to LOOK artistic as well. Especially considering the “optional” food dishes, this is a topic I want to discuss in depth here.
In Japanese high culture, art was the thing. The house was designed with art in mind, the clothing was an art, the weapons and armor had an artistic bent and to that even the food was artistic in nature. It was a sign of high culture, of refinement, that you were able to produce not only a good tasting meal but a good looking one at that. Understanding the artistic styles and applying them to food was an amazing gift that was meant to be shared, this is an aspect I am trying to emulate upcoming feast.
So let’s talk about that, shall we? The food itself is to be a work of art, so it must look the part. Sauces will be carefully placed, not to smear or dribble about in presentation. Vegetables and fruit will be cut as square and clean as possible, to show off the angles of the cut. Plating will be warm and inviting, food will be arranged to create shapes or images (like my Triskle Chesnut design I’m gonna do) and the colors will be vibrant to stand out against the stark white serving gear. The idea for this artistic display is to heighten the taste of the food and appreciation for the skill of the artisan crafting it. It wasn’t just what was served on, it was the served items themselves.
Another aspect to this style is food designed for appreciation, not so much for eating. A massive show of wealth, these were dishes that used inedible ingredients for color/shape or were often not that tasty. You were meant to reflect upon the nature of the dish, see what the dish meant to you, perhaps hear a haiku read about such a dish or just appreciate the artistic touch gone into crafting it. I have three such dishes, mine will all be edible because food science has given me a modern edge, and each is unique in its theme. The Pine Cone Tofu will be a baked tofu shaped to look like a pine cone and covered in sweet spices, it is shaped to look like a pine cone before it releases its seeds in promise of new life. The Uji River is designed to resemble the mighty river in the thaws of spring and new beginnings, Udon noodles dyed blue will run along the caramel colored sauce with pieces of Nori carefully placed along the sides to represent the green hills. Lastly is my Blue Sea Soup, a chilled cold soup of fruit juice dyed blue and topped with fresh made whip cream waves (fish shaped mochi topped with red bean paste will be served on the side which go delightfully well with the tasty dessert).
These dishes will be something amazing to look at, and I eagerly look forward to sharing them with my guests. This whole feast experience has been amazing, and I want to thank you for following along with me thus far. I have one last post to write before the big day, on how people who eat the food to get the full experience, which will come out soon. Stay tuned!