Kaiseki Ryori (Classical Japanese Cuisine)
Kaiseki Ryori, is the seasonal Japanese cuisine served during such occasions as the traditional Chanoyu (tea ceremony) gathering. It has its roots in simple seasonal vegetarian cuisine (Shojin Ryori)served in Zen temples. The word Kaiseki is composed of two characters:
The character "kai" is taken from the word "kaichu", the opening or pocket that forms when one side of the kimono or Zen robe is folded over the other. Tying the obi sash creates this pocket just above the top of the sash.
The character "seki" means stone. This is drawn from the word "yakuseki" or "medicine stone. It is thought that Zen monks in earlier times would wrap a hot stone with a towel and place it in their kimono "pocket." The heat from the stone would help stave off hunger pains between the morning and evening meals.
It was the idea that just enough food was needed to sustain one during the day that translated into the simple Kaiseki meal that is served during the tea gathering.
Kaiseki cuisine uses fresh seasonal ingredients, simple seasonings and cooking techniques to create dishes that are beautiful in appearance and presentation, flavourful, and in harmony with the season.
Strictly vegetarian in earlier times, Kaiseki cooking has changed with modern tastes and customs and now often includes seafood, poultry, and meat in its many dishes.