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Empire and Japanese Cuisine

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses about the Japanese cuisine in early twentieth century. Over the centuries Japanese cuisine had employed two main ingredients to make food more palatable, konbu and katsuobushi. These ingredients are filled with an amino acid called glutamine which adds richness to flavor. The late-Meiji and early-Taisho eras were characterized by advances in Japanese food science and tremendous progress in general science. New inventions, such as the production of monosodium glutamate (MSG)) allowed tastes to reach a wider audience than ever before and food science products changed the face of East Asian food. MSG makes food more pleasant to taste and adds richness to the natural taste. While the Edo era laid the foundation for Japanese cuisine, the late Meiji and early-Taisho eras helped to create modern Japanese taste and diet by embracing Chinese cuisine. The culmination of this was a product now recognized as ramen.

Keywords:Chinese cuisine; Japanese cuisine; monosodium glutamate (MSG); ramen; Taisho era

10.1163/9789004220980_009
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