By Paige McReynolds
Everyone loves teriyaki food. Okay, maybe not everyone but it has definitely become one of the most popular dishes served at a Japanese restaurant in the western culture (California Rolls are popular for those who are a little more daring). But did you know that traditional Japanese teriyaki isn’t served with chicken, pork, or beef? Normally, it’s served with seafood such as marlin, salmon, tuna, and squid. So this got me thinking: what other Japanese traditions are we breaking?
Well for starters, every Japanese-style meal is served with chopsticks (and I don’t think they serve the beginner kind with paper and rubber bands!). Japanese food is soft enough to be picked up and even cut with chopsticks so the only time Japanese need the basic fork, knife, and spoon is when they are eating western food (imagine that). Even soup is served with chopsticks; you eat the ingredients with the chopsticks then slurp your soup. Yes, you heard me correctly, sluuurrrppppppp your soup. It is actually normal in Japanese culture as it signifies a delicious meal and compliments the chef. However, do not put your chopsticks erect from a bowl of rice! Uh oh, how many times have you done that? This is how rice is given to the dead and is not accepted at the dinner table. Instead, place your chopsticks on their designated tray or horizontally across your bowl to signify you’re finished eating.
I think this one would get most Americans in trouble: before the extreme takeover of fast food, you were not allowed to eat in front of someone who was not eating. It was considered rude to walk down the street and “flaunt your food” to people who were less fortunate. In 8th century Japan, anyone who was caught drinking while standing up was required by law to commit suicide. While this law obviously isn’t in effect anymore, and people are allowed to eat on the streets, some still consider the act to be looked down upon.
If you love learning about Japanese culture and food just as much as we do, be sure to attend the 59th Annual Enmanji Temple BBQ and Bazaar. This family-friendly event attracts thousand every years and provides a whirl of colorful entertainment along with authentic Japanese cuisine that is sure to please the whole family.
Paige is an intern with Karen Pierce Gonzalez Public Relations. A senior at Sonoma State University she has plans one day of being a communications specialist who can crank out copy just as easily as she can use chopsticks.