In the Japanese culture, the number five is considered as a basis for many aspects. This number also plays a big role in their culinary tradition. The previous article have mentioned the Japanese 5S for standardized working environment—seiri, seiton, seiso, shitsuke and seiketsu. Now, here comes a list of 5 more elements used by the Japanese people as a basis for their cuisine.

KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI

The Five Senses

From preparing the ingredients, cooking the food, to the presentation or serving of the dish, it is important for Japanese chefs and home cooks to maintain harmony of the five senses: visual (sense of sight), olfactory (sense of smell), tactile (sense of touch), gustatory (sense of taste) and auditory (sense of hearing).

The visual sense is predominant in the Japanese cuisine. In fact, this sense is considered as significant as the sense of taste. The people in Japan believe that artful arrangement or presentation of the dish adds pleasure to every meal. For them, a perfectly cooked meal is nothing if the way it is served is not pleasing to the sight. Do you know that even the appetite of the Japanese people is affected by the way a dish is presented?

The olfactory or the sense of smell is obviously as important as the sense of sight. What more can attract people into eating something than the aroma? Japan, being famous for having numerous patronized food theme parks, is composed of many individually owned restaurants; hence, the competition between these businesses is very tight. As a strategy, chefs of each restaurant would always find a way to create a dish with enticing aroma in order to surpass rivals.

Tactile, the sense of touch, is all about texture. This does not only apply to the foods’ consistency in texture, but also to the tableware used in serving every dish. For example, the bamboo chopsticks are Japan’s traditional equipment when dining. It is important for every pair of chopsticks to be freshly cut because the Japanese people believe it adds satisfaction to every meal.

Gustatory, or the sense of taste, is of course the most important element in the world of culinary; not only in Japan but throughout the world. Even without all the other senses, this can make every meal delightful and fulfilling.

The last sense is the auditory or the sense of hearing. To what instance does this sense apply? Well, some people would prefer a quieter sushi restaurant, while others would opt for a boisterous place having a lot of customers. Moreover, the sense of hearing in Japanese cuisine would point to restaurants or food stalls that would let patrons hear the fulfilling sound of frying or boiling of the food when prepared.

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