Japanese History to Chew on

Here‘s a history course that really gives you something to chew on.

Last semester I gave a course on the historical development of East Asian cuisines and food cultures. While some food history courses take anthropological approaches, this was a conventional history course. We traced a narrative arc from the earliest known foods of the region, examining how political, economic, technological and trade developments affected diet and foodways. So, for example, when we got to the Tokugawa period, we discussed both how sankin kotai, by creating a permanent population of temporary bachelors in Edo, spurred the development of restaurant culture and dramatically increased the popularity of foods suitable for take-away dining, like sushi and noodles, and how the closed country policy meant that Japan experienced a much slower process of assimilating New World ingredients than China did. Plus we had some “cool show-and-tell cultural events.”

via Frog in a Well

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Filed under China, Japan

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