The Fifth Day of Kitsune — Dining with the Daimyou

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Twelve Days of Kitsune
nishiki food market, kyoto, pickled vegetables...

nishiki food market, kyoto, pickled vegetables (nukamiso) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we’re going to have a meal with the oyakata-sama and okugata-sama, the lord and lady of the household. Have you been practicing with your chopsticks? I hope you’re hungry!

We will be seated in order of social hierarchy, and as we are dining with the nobility, we will each have a short-legged table made of lacquered wood (called a zen). All dishes will be served at once.

“Itadakimasu.” I humbly receive this food; let us eat!

The Daimyou’s Meal

English: Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits commo...

Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits common in Japan. 日本語: 梅干し(しそ梅) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vegans and vegetarians will be very comfortable; eating meat (other than fish) has been uncommon in Japan for centuries, for religious and economic reasons, and while polite society is eating more meat now, it’s still very much a supplement (okazu) rather than a staple (gohan). Most animal protein comes from fish or shellfish, or possibly whale meat.

Dieters won’t have to worry, either — very few oils or fats are used in food preparation. Dairy is also almost never seen. (In fact, you probably shouldn’t bring it up; just as you might not like the smell of fermented beans, they won’t much like the scent of dairy products. It’s just not what anyone’s used to.)

Tonight we have pickled vegetables, dried abalone and other fish, umeboshi (pickled ume, a fruit related to the plum and apricot), raw trout, grilled vegetables, starchy dumplings fried in sesame oil (one of the few fats you’ll see), seaweed, and of course rice.

It’s polite to lift your bowl to an appropriate while eating; please don’t embarrass the rest of us by leaning over your food. And we will have sake, of course, but remember not to take it at the same time as eating rice; that is rice with rice, and that isn’t done.

The Kitsune’s Meal

But wait! Are we dining with a kitsune as well? The gentleman to your left seems particularly fond of his fried tofu, which is known to be a favorite of foxes.

inari zushi

inari zushi (Photo credit: roboppy)

This is why today you can buy inari-zushi (vinegared rice wrapped in deep-fried tofu) and kitsune-udon (udon noodes with fried tofu balls). Sometimes the inari-zushi has pointed corners like fox ears! (Remember that Inari is the deity who retains foxes as messengers.)

“Gochisousamadeshita!” It has been a feast; thank you for the food!


Series Navigation<< The Fourth Day of Kitsune – the Brief History and Use of ChopsticksThe Sixth Day of Kitsune — On Kimono & Japanese Clothing >>
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One Comment

  1. I never knew that about it being correct to lift the bowl, though once I read this I remembered having seen it done. I wonder if the same is correct if you are eating from a plate, in the U.S., in the 21st Century? I still have a little trouble sometimes getting the rice with my chopsticks! :)

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