The Japanese art to eating with your eyes
The Japanese phrase ‘me de taberu’ translates to ‘to eat with your eyes’. In Japan, sight is considered as important as taste and smell when it comes to enjoying Japanese cuisine through one’s sensory faculties. A Japanese meal can be both simple in design or intricate in the finer details.
Achieving visual perfection of a meal inherently requires the greatest cooking instruments. Master sushi chefs take especially great care when choosing the tools of their arsenal. Only the highest-quality knife can achieve the perfect cut and shape of the fish. As Japanese chefs can take lifetimes perfecting their craft, nothing can be compromised. From the very first slice of the fresh ingredients to the art of plate arrangement, the visual artistry of a dish is considered in every step.
When it comes to the overall arrangement of a dish, placement is key. It is for this reason that Japanese-style chopsticks are ideal in comparison to chopsticks of other Asian cultures. The pointed end allows for precision when placing the ingredients on the plate. The setting of the dining table is also of great importance for the visual experience. The dishes and utensils must all be immaculately set.
Decorative embellishments and a variety of garnishes may also be used to enhance the visual pleasure of the meal. The look of a meal might reflect traditional Japanese values, such as minimalism and simplicity. Other times, designs may be more elaborate. This practice is not only exclusive to professional chefs alone. The rise in popularity in bento boxes in the Western world has brought attention to the level of care a Japanese mother puts into making creative and fun designs for their children’s lunchboxes. Many products and accessories such as inedible garnishes and food cutters are used to allow for greater detail and intricacy in designs.
The Japanese people certainly place a grand importance in the visual appearance of a meal as well as its taste. This beautifully reflects the values of the Japanese people that everything in life must be handled with care and sophistication.