Traditional Japanese tableware: a wide variety of small, colorful and refined pieces

Traditional Japanese tableware: a wide variety of small, colorful and refined pieces

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Very different from Western gastronomy, Japanese cuisine requires special dishes to highlight specialties and create a table with a Zen atmosphere. Attached to traditions, the majority of the population uses this traditional tableware with varied patterns and shapes. Laure Kie, author of the book My little Japanese cuisine helps us understand traditional Japanese dishes. A quick overview of the essential pieces for a typical Japanese table.

All in one meal

To understand what type of tableware traditionally uses Japanese, one must know Japanese cuisine. The meal is generally (except in large restaurants) served at once. No starter ritual, main dish, cheese and dessert as in French gastronomy: there is everything on the table to make your own plate. "There is traditionally a bowl of rice and a soup (often a Miso soup), which are accompanied by vegetables, raw or grilled fish, or meat, and condiments," says Laure Kié. Traditionally, there is no dessert in the Japanese meal. The Japanese dining table is therefore usually filled with small containers of different shapes and colors.

Choose your dishes according to the occasion

In traditional crockery, there are two types of crockery, that of everyday life and that which is taken out for special occasions such as weddings or parties. Tableware for the big days consists of lacquered wood. The colors found there are generally black and red.

These dishes are not dishwasher safe and are very fragile. It is passed on from generation to generation. Daily dishes are made of terracotta. Japan is a country with a long pottery tradition and each region has its specificities like the Bizen region renowned for its pottery with raw colors. "Unlike Western dishes where you buy harmonized services, Japanese dishes are generally mismatched," explains Laure Kié, before adding that this "allows a great variety in the shapes and colors of the same service" like the service of sake whose small glasses are often unique.

Colors throughout the seasons

In terms of colors, we traditionally find the white-blue and red association. But the colors and patterns vary a lot depending on the season. "For summer we prefer blue and green which brings freshness, for spring pink and floral patterns, for autumn red and brown which reminds of maple leaves and for winter white and the raw colors "specifies Laure Kié. The shapes are also varied because the plates can be square, rectangular or round depending on the dishes, but they are always smaller than Western plates.

The bento, the essential accessory

Finally, let's not forget the bento, a meal tray to which every Japanese has been accustomed from a very young age. Indeed, the schools do not have canteens in Japan, the little Japanese leave in the morning with their lunch in their bento, a compartmentalized box in which is placed the entire meal. This bento is generally made of lacquered wood.

Some addresses to discover and buy traditional Japanese dishes: Kimonaya Kioko La Maison du Japon House of Japanese culture And for Japanese recipes: My little Japanese cuisine by Laure Kie, at Editions Marabout (2009) - 15.90 euros My little bento by Laure Kie, at Editions Marabout (2009) - 7.90 euros