They nourish the Samurai lifestyle with fresh harvests and well-balanced meals. Because they believed it provides them with the right energy and strength for any battle. Supper time was a period for recharging and restoration.
They eat fresh root crops, dried taro stems, and fresh leafy vegetables. Therefore, they add their Wasabi, and sometimes together with Shiso. This article will reveal the history of how the Samurai cuisine started. Most importantly, what they believed was a well-balanced diet for them.
The Maeda Clan of Kaga Domain and the Samurai Cuisine
Here’s a short background within Japanese cuisine. And why they use Japanese words “Itadakimasu” and “Gochiso samadeshita” in functions. First, to honor the given food at the table. Second, to recognize that one has finished his food and that he is thankful for it. (Due to the belief of honoring the living things that gave up for themselves so that they can eat them. )
The word Washoku means Japanese food. It means you have to look at it as being able to present history to you. Thus history is being related to you on a plate when you’re eating Washoku.
Kanazawa – Birthplace of Samurai Cuisine
Kanazawa is in the northern part of middle Japan and it’s inside the Ishikawa prefecture. Today many tourists from all over the world come to see this building. Toshiie Maeda, known as a fierce swordsman and at the same time a gentleman, built this castle. He was very brave that he created the Maeda clan which helped him built it. Consequently, he was the first feudal lord. As a result, Lord Maeda was able to make his kingdom in the fightdom of Kanazawa.
During the Edo period (1603 – 1868), Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa, a gentleman, ruled Japan. Hence, they recognized him as the one who unified Japan. Because during this period, there was no war for 260 years. Lord Tokugawa created laws which allowed the lords to rule in their own domain. Therefore they had to impose very strict rules. The castle that Lord Tokugawa built is the present day Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org
Kyouoh – the Samurai Banquet
Now, it is proper to introduce what people call Samurai cuisine. “Kyouoh”, has a meaning that can translate into a type of banquet. Because there were decades of peace among the Japanese, the Daimyo or Lords didn’t go to war. Hence, they held banquets to entertain them. As a result the Kyouoh started. A deeper meaning in it includes the spirit of “Omotinashi” or the “spirit of thanks”.
By presenting meals to the guests, it represents being thankful for their presence. Almost all Daimyo practiced these. Hence, they exchange Kyouoh at certain times they visit each one’s domicile. As a result, the Kyouoh was a sign of one’s intellect, refinement, and power for the Daimyo. Due to these Kyouoh, Japanese food culture developed.
Origin of Kyouoh
The origin of Kyouoh comes from the Samurai going to the wars. Because they need to build camaraderie, they share the Miso they bring from their own homes. Sharing the Misoshiro helped built their teamwork and become their bonding experience. As a result, it created a strong bond between each one of them that lead to the culture of Kyouoh. The Japanese believe that the origin of Misoshiru parties created the spirit of Wa. It is the spirit of being able to do things together, even at fighting.
Together, they were trying to create a better future – peace. Certainly, a life they all sought to live in. Therefore, Kyouoh created cuisines that brought peace through camaraderie. Later, they called it Shirukou – the word for the Misoshiru parties. The Samurai during the Muromachi period (1338-1573) held gatherings known as Shirukou. Seems like they did this on battlefields.
Ingredients and Medicinal Herbs used by the Samurai
The type of food that the Samurai ate was very healthy. The standard was to use always fresh materials. Because they believed that fresh food had medicinal value. Plainly because they were eating the freshest and most seasonal foods on the table. The taste came from Miso, Shoyo, vinegar, salt, and the pickled plum. It was a rule that the cuisine has to have a balance within itself. They used all the ingredients. They used the most natural different types of salts and minerals to flavor the taste.
The Fundamentals of Samurai Cuisine
Photo Credit: pxhere.com
The basic in creating healthy food is that you must have the best balance of everything. It is like balancing the yin and yang. A balance on all these six tastes: sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty and Umami. Likewise, it has to have five different colors: white, yellow, red, blue and black. As well as the five methods in cooking: raw, boiled, baked, fried and steamed. Thus we get to have a real, healthy, balance of food.
The Samurai learned how to get enough sustenance and vitality. Even when they couldn’t access some of the food. By preparing their bodies and mind, they were ready for battle.
Their insider facts were:
- Eating dependent on the idea of adjusting yin and yang.
- Ingredients that supply the important vitality and nourishment forever.
- Medicinal herbs and vegetables that guide in making individually sound.
- Japanese seasonings that have stood the trial of time.
The Samurai Diet Today
The Samurai Diet consists of separate days of the week where one eats specific foods for every meal. This diet takes about 3 months on average and supposedly makes you lose an average of 1-2 pounds per week. Here’s a sample diet that became popular.
Monday – Breakfast consists of cereals and a glass of water. For lunch, a small sandwich and a no-sugar drink. For dinner, Rizza (a type of noodle) and any soup.
Tuesday – Breakfast is toast, fruit and leftover soup from the day before. Lunch is rice cakes and Nabe (a traditional Japanese hot pot filled with a broth of salmon and Miso. Dinner is Soba noodles and soup.
Wednesday – Breakfast includes yogurt and Nabe. Lunch is Nabe. Dinner is Soba noodles and soup.
Thursday – Nothing specific but mixed fruits, muffin, and a sandwich, and tempura (a type of sushi).
Friday – Breakfast includes yogurt, fruit, and a muffin. For lunch, Ypu with tempura leftovers. Dinner is sushi and Okonomiyaki. (A Japanese pancake filled with meat, vegetables, etc.).
Saturdays and Sundays – Breakfast of cereals. Lunch consists of Okonomiyaki leftovers and fish. Dinner is salad and soup.
The Metabolic Syndrome
In 2007, there have been reports of many Japanese officials who have lost weight with this diet. It became so popular that many tried it. For that reason, the metabolic syndrome became a common ailment in Japan. The extra belly fat, high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure were signs. Out of these officials, one of them died due to heart failure.
In contrast, they continued with the Samurai weight loss program. Because they stated that they completed the plan successfully. No one followed through their medical status after. Although this diet seems to have worked in the past, it’s still isn’t tested or studied. Therefore, it is not wise to try this diet without talking to a licensed dietitian or doctor.
The original Samurai diet seems to be just like our history. Woven from different small beginnings becoming to traditional culture. The Samurai are no longer present but we definitely have a history of their life, food, and lifestyle.