Food and Eating

Food and Eating
14 records
In Japan during the Edo period, people generally ate unpolished rice alone or mixed with other grains. Farmers in particular, who were required to pay their land tax in rice, were forced to supplement their diet with wheat and barley. Rice wine (sake), a popular alcoholic beverage, was served warm in small glasses. Pounded rice cake (mochi) was a popular soft and sticky treat eaten alone or in soup, especially around the New Year. Beyond being a source of nourishment, rice came to serve cultural purposes as well; in fact, rice formed the basis of the Japanese economy. Sums of money were defined by koku (the amount of rice that would feed one person for one year). Samurai were paid in koku, and payments could be made in koku or in goods and money equivalent to the value of a koku.

Fish, seafood, and tofu provided protein. More than for their nutritional content, certain fruits were respected for their symbolic meanings. Pomegranates, due to their numerous juicy red seeds, represented large numbers of children and female sexual maturity. In the Edo period, the word momo meant both peach and thighs, and the separation of the plump fruit along a curved center was sensuously likened to the separation of women’s legs. Peaches then became talismans for easy childbirth.

- Armanda Dingledy-Rodie; Chris Drosse; Hollis Goodall, Managing Curator (2007)