Cuisine is the most relevant concept which characterizes not only several idea, but also depicts the historical background of the nation. Culinary culture is turn significantly on geographical position and climate of the country. Nonetheless, there are some more features which characterize the formation of nation’s culinary culture.
This paper is aimed at revelation the essence of both Japanese and Italian cuisine. It encompasses the comparison, common and distinctive features of these culinary cultures. The work also involves the description of basic features of Japanese cuisine. The paper has for an object touching upon the theme of innovative culinary trends and British drinking and eating habits.
Finally, the work embraces the comparison of two restaurants, describes their pros and cons. Besides, the pictures of “Strada” and “Miller & Carter” restaurant are presented in the paper; therefore it is possible to look them over. So, let’s start our trip to such remote, but, at the same time, so close marvelous world.
1.1 Comparison of the Japanese and Italian Cuisines
La cucina italiana is a real world-famed heritage which enriches cuisines of any country all over the world. We cannot resist the temptation of taking just another piece of pizza or revel in eating delicious cheese which everyone falls in love with. Nonetheless, it will be to the point compare such different, but unique culinary cultures.
The traditional cuisine of Japan, so-called “washoku”, is represented by seasonal products (fish and vegetables), rice and soup. It is known for such popularized dish as sushi, tempura and yakitori. Not so much national anthem characterizes Japan as the country, as her dishes from fish and rice, of course. Worth attention its tea ceremony which is an example of special form of art.
It is known that both widespread and typical Italian products always were with essential industrial support: tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese and pasta, of course. However, its culinary culture experienced a significant formation period: Italian views and ideas clashed with Barbarian ones. So, a fusion of cultures was born and two models represented the “same value system” (Capatti 2003). Besides, Islamic and Christian culture collapsed and they had to submit unacceptable features peculiar to each other.
It is known that seafood, leeks and artichokes were in the limelight of Italians’ eyes during the Ancient period. Romans also addicted themselves to the use of herbs and spices. Taking into consideration the Middle Ages, it may be observed a tendency towards consumption of spinach and almond. The reason of such variety was an influence of Arabs and their considerable contribution. At the same time, Japanese cuisine was abundant with paddy fields, cultivation of fruits, vegetables and flowers. While Italian’s one used spices as the way to emphasize some ingredients in the dish.
All I all, ascribing the most typical ingredients for different parts of Italy it should be borne in mind that the Northern part is disposed towards consumption of risotto, fish, potatoes, polenta, pasta, nuts and oil. The inhabitants of Central region are used to eating meat, cheese and tomatoes. The Southern area is abundant with garlic, artichokes, eggplants, oranges, ricotta cheese. As we can notice, given cultures are both incorporated rice and emphasize on seafood. However, there is lack of common features in this case.
At the same time, Japanese cuisine is founded on rice with miso soup and fish. It goes without saying that such dish as “sushi” is widely distributed nowadays and a lot of countries have adopted this type of food. Whereas Italians in the main drink wine, Japanese enjoy tea, shōchū, sake and even beer. Undoubtedly, of no small account is the influence of geographical position and historical background, therefore, these cultures are differentiated significantly. Japanese culinary culture is now considerably popularized. Every child knows about sushi and this dish now is as popular as burgers. All in all, not in vain Japanese cuisine was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. At the same time, everybody knows about Italian pizza, renowned cheese and inimitable wine.
While it is possible to talk about Italy as a country with a great variety of ingredients, depending on different regions, Japan is a country which has its specific regional cuisine. Undoubtedly, Tohoku region is famous for its wanko soba (noodles served in small bowls), Chubu and Kanto regions represent sushi (edo-mae-zushi). Shikoku, for example, is famed for sawachi ryori (sashimi). The list of original dishes is really endless, what makes Japan mysterious, distinctive and famous country.
Taking into consideration cooking habits it is worth saying that food choices of Japanese vary considerably. The inhabitants of this country can begin their day with a “Western-style breakfast or toast” (Cwiertka 2006), fried eggs or just coffee. At the same time, they are fond of seafood (grilled fish), miso soup and rice. So, it defines them as adherents of both foreign and Japanese-style cuisine. At lunch they can take a bite of fast-food or prepare obento at home. A dinner may be taken home, however, some of Japanese are used to eating in luxurious restaurants, Italian and French bistros or exotic Indian cafés.
In addition, Italians do not often have abundant breakfast: a cup of coffee will be enough to them for a couple of hours. Nevertheless, they usually drop in cafés or bars to have a cup of cappuccino with sweetmeats during the lunch. The most principal part of the day represent the hours of the lunch. The dishes are very rich and delicious: risotto, contorni, pasta, dolce (desert) are typical in Italy, but for the quick snack, they will have a panino (filled roll). Dinner is always lighter than the lunch: it can be a salad or just a soup, vegetables or fruits.
Concerning drinking habits it is worth mentioning that it is popularized to have aperitifs during the meal, which are more common for the evening, rather for breakfast or lunch. It is widespread to drink wine, liqueurs, and cocktails. Aperol, which is at the top-most favorite drinks, is made with the mix of different herbs, which is typical for Italians through the ages. During traditional social gatherings the inhabitants of this country often drink Negroni, a drink which has rather interesting story of its invention. Besides, Italians prefer to drink sweet herbal digestives (Mirto, Laurino, Gineprino). All in all, nobody is so fond of espresso as Italians: it has so unique smell and taste that every foreigner will be on the seventh heaven.
For someone it might sound strange that a beer is a king of Japanese drinks. It predominates among men and woman, young and old and even children. However, men sometimes prefer whisky to beer, while woman usually spend their time at the end of the week with a glass of wine or chuhai. The oldest ones enjoy drinking saké (rice wine) during cold summer. While Italians enjoy drinking coffee, Japanese nation is renowned for their tea ceremonies (Chanoyu). The whole process emphasizes not on drinking tea, but reveals the aesthetics, because serving tea is a real art which requires spiritual discipline. Such ceremony is aimed at creating relaxed communication between the host and guests.
1.2 The influence of historical background and geographical position
Korea, Europe, United States and China are those countries which especially influenced on the formation of Japanese cuisine. The researchers mark out two principal distinctive properties of Japan’s geographical position. First and foremost, weather impact is what influences on the abundance and diversity of crops. Temperate climate is the most dominating in the country; nevertheless it varies from subtropical in the southern part to sub-polar in the northern one. These areas are prone to sweltering and clammy summer, but quite cold winter. Rich arable land, which is a fundamental principle of economy, should owe a deluge from the outset of early summer. In addition, the mountains were not only the way to defend from the enemies or served as “barriers between various political entities and regional cuisines and preferences” (Ashkenazi 3), it was also a place where mushrooms, fruits and roots were concentrated. As concerning the historical background, paddy fields, cultivation of fruits, vegetables and flowers were widespread as a consequence of the taking roots in Hokkaido in eighteenth century. However, before the appearance of rice (the fifth century C. E.), people used to cultivate millet and tubers. The introduction of such “magical” cereal grain made a real sensation. Chinese culture influenced profoundly on Japanese one representing its miso and chopsticks; confectionaries were sprouting all over the country as ceramic technology had been improved.
Religion penetrated the culinary culture, though. In 545 C.E. a Korean governor sent to the Japanese one some symbols which depicted Buddhism. Despite the fact that this belief supposed holding the meat in abhorrence and preferred it to vegetables, the religion introduced to Japanese cuisine a conception of symbolical color meaning and “aesthetic canons” (Ashkenazi 7). Chinese diffused the idea of drinking tea and, according to Chinese model it was like a special ritual which was organized in a special ceremonial way. Almost everyone rather gave the favor to this “nectar”, than to rice wine, so-called saké, because the tea was greatly popularized in aristocratic circles. Besides, the tea was served with a special multicourse meal – kaiseki. Consumption of saké and tea was dovetailed neatly as numerous number of drinking places and cafés turned into the point of assignation.
Japan also opens the door to the southern barbarian style of cooking: both Spaniards and Dutch contributed to Japanese cuisine originality. The meat used to be fried with leeks, so this idea gained a foothold, although its consumption widespread later enough. In addition, it was not available for various strata of society till the dawn of the Modern period.
Italian cuisine, especially the south of the country, was deeply influenced by Arab countries: this is because they were who introduced various spices and even sweetmeats. Nowadays the world knows Italy for its divine Sicilian ice-cream. Concerning the religion, the major one in Italy is Catholicism; therefore, no meat was allowed to eat during Lent. It was widespread to cook fish with vegetables and eat bread with cheese. Then it was popular to enjoy panettone (so-called cakes) during Christmas holidays. It is utterly interesting fact that during New Year Italians used to prepare pork and lentils as they symbolized health and money correspondingly.
2. Multicultural nature of food and drink
It is known that climate is one of the vital reasons of the formation of culinary tradition. Inhabitants of the hot regions are used to eating spicy food, because it raises the body temperature causes organism to perspire. There is also a great influence of religion on food. The thing is, there are a lot features that sculptured the culinary tradition; first and foremost, inhabitants of some areas refused from consumption of various type of food (it touches upon the significance of meat in various religions), others stuck to hard and fast rules of Lent and celebration of various holidays. The same situation happens with “geography of drinks”: both conquerors of different regions introduced important role into drinking habits of the nation and inhabitants itself adopted some traditions from their neighbouring territories.
2.1 British drinking and eating habits
Every culture combines both unique and prevailing features. “Culinary multiculturalism” (Cwiertka 2006) of the county is based on political, economic and social forces which cause considerable wind of changes. The drinking and eating habits of the nation are based on geographical and historical features. People who live in the coastal area rather eat seafood with white wine, than meat and, on the contrary, the inhabitants of the mainland prefer meat with red wine to seafood. The reason of such alternative is the choice of the most accessible alimentation. In addition, the principal role also belongs to climate characteristics. Those who live in cold regions prone to drinking tea, coffee or eating hot soups, while others fresh up with lemonade, frappe and cold drinks.
As for the British culture and its culinary heritage it is worth saying about the position of this cuisine in the modern world. Indisputably, it is necessary emphasize that British cuisine has always been multicultural. The culinary had basically a profound influence of Romans and French. It has incorporated almost the best features from the old ones, reinterpretating previous variants of dishes and combining them with fusion elements. Steak, pudding and pie, Lancashire hotpot threw off their old masks and began to sparkle with new strength.
British cuisine should owe excellent high-quality ingredients: delicious beef and lamb, wonderful fish and pies. The culinary also gained success due to the fact that cuisine experienced the emergence of organic food movement and return to slow food. Nowadays, “elite” is used to making appointments at restaurants which source ingredients locally and cook seasonally.
Anyway, modern chefs recognize such term as “modern cuisine” and just prefer to serve unique and extraordinary dishes, adopting some ideas from other cultures. When you recollect in your mind the word-combination “British food” you can be definitely sure of its high quality and start your adventure, being in perfect bliss.
2.2 New developing trends
Interest in food science has grown significantly. The thing is nowadays increases awareness of the crucial role of food in the health of the human. Besides, people's curiosity and desire plays considerable role in trying innovative and unusual food dishes. Imposing number of renowned chefs think that it is the food for tomorrow, it is also a kind of fashion, though. In addition, such type of cuisine creates to draw the attention of new clientele and broadens chefs’ outlook.
In general, culinary culture develops up-tempo and in our shrinking world it is utterly hard to keep abreast of the times and to follow all distinctive characteristics. Anyway, combining and matching of different culture occurs and fusion food emerged in the end of XX century, from pop culture. Everyone also knows about molecular gastronomy and nowadays it is possible to recreate real wondrous works of art on your own kitchen. It is the way to combine chemistry, food and, of course, art. It is not necessary to think that it uses a great amount of chemicals and it is unhealthy and synthetic food. The elements used in such cuisine are of biological origin. It is a real way to show your worth in something new.
Not less interesting kind of modern contemporary cuisines is a fusion one which combines the elements and techniques of food preparation of different culinary traditions. This cuisine also occupies its niche in Japanese culture, because such particular dish as fusion-sushi: maki with different types of rice and additional ingredients (cheese, salsa, curry, capers).
As for me, it is rather interesting way to show extraordinary skills and desire to create something new. Therefore, I support those cultures which develop and distribute such innovative way of cooking.
4. “Strada” VS “Miller & Carter” restaurant
It took me almost the whole day to realize my gastronomic adventure into the world of divine food. First and foremost, I decided to draw your attention to such restaurants as “Strada” and “Miller & Carter Steakhouse”. In the result, I can pass the sentence on both restaurants: the dish in the “Miller & Carter Steakhouse” was not served nice enough. It seemed to me that a huge iceberg was served, but definitely not the salad which could afford aesthetical pleasure. Nevertheless, the steak was delicious and quite lovely. As for “Strada” restaurant, it is worth pointing out that in menu brushetta looked very luxurious and it captured my attention. However, it was too creamy, as for me. Undoubtedly, I will not order it the next time. As we can see on the picture, two restaurants have some distinctive features. Firstly, the exterior and interior of both is quite different: “Strada” is rather designed for official arrangements or someone can just enjoy the regular day-off. It rejoices the cockles of our heart till we see the dish which is not in our taste. Nonetheless, it looks wonderful in combination with such prices. It is possible to see everything neatly on the next pictures. I have also visited “Miller & Carter”, so it is worth saying that it rather means for romantic meetings as the illumination is utterly low. To my mind, it will come in handy if the personal staff will demarcate the halls for various destinations. In such way it will definitely have more clientele. It is also necessary to change the presentation of the food: all the components are put very chaotically, therefore it looks quite messy. The salads needs to be made more presentable and aesthetic, because the dish is required to be not only delicious, but has to be a real wondrous work of art. Anyway, the prices are correlated enough with quality of the food and staff service. I will just wish them to proceed in their restaurant business, not be afraid of experiments and justify their prices for dishes.