The Eastern Feast
Our modern Australian cuisine has evolved from the availability of produce introduced by the immigrants that the land has welcomed. However the practice of combining Japanese foods with other national fare be it Italian, Australian or Greek cam be detrimental to the distinctive taste and purity of Japanese food. Antipasto platters that feature dried tomatoes and char grilled vegetables combined with sushi, sashimi and norimaki would not be acceptable to the Japanese purist; I’m all for East meeting West – not on the platter. The culture, the people’s reverence for ceremony and the unique flavours to which the cuisine lends itself are individual to the country and hold a special custom that deserves to be respected. Only a few chefs have the skill and qualification to alter this equation who, because of their indigenous right have the ability to fuse European technique with Japanese tradition.
Diet as a cure is now common, and in many cases does
a great deal more than medicine effecting the desired result.
Mrs. Isabella Beeton – Everyday Cookery 1900
The principles of Chinese cosmology are known as yin and yang. They represent all of the elements in nature. Originally, the yin side was the shady side of the hill while the yang side was the sunny side. In everything there must be a balance of the yin and yang – where some of the elements that yin represents are moon, night, cold, dark, feminine, and earth; the yang reflects their polarity – sun, day, heat, light, masculine, and heaven. Essentially, harmony of the elements is most desirable; yet achieving this balance can be rather elusive. By understanding the basic principles of yin and yang, it is then possible to counteract excessive or deficient patterns within the body. The Chinese ideogram of yin yang represents balance and harmony, which dates back to the Taoist period of the sixth century.
The Eastern philosophy of food is that it possesses certain energies and flavours that effect our body in different ways. For example, meat, alcohol, drugs, and sugar are considered very yang and may have an expansive or ‘out there’ effect on our mind and body. Consider the effects of excessive consumption of any of these and one begins to gain some understanding of the concept.
For example, treating a hangover with the opposiing energy, that is, by consuming something contractive such as salty foods like miso soup and tamari or legumes with grains, balance will be achieved more rapidly than if one was to continue to feed the hangover with more sugar and fat, which will only create more expansive behaviour. This can be managed in the short term with only superficial bodily detriment, however, when the body can no longer handle any further excess, more fundamental illness will occur.
Chinese medicine is based on the idea that illness results from imbalances in yin and yang, the two polar principles that are present to varying degrees in each individual, and disruptions of the flow of vital energy, or qi (also called chi). A wide variety of symptoms can occur when there is a depletion or congestion (interrupted flow) of qi or blood (xue). Traditional Chinese Medicine employs a variety of techniques including acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet modification, moxibustion, exercise, and massage to restore the body’s balance and stimulate the proper flow of qi.