Happy New Year! Did you have a lovely celebration?
When it comes to New Year’s cuisine, Osechi-ryōri is in the spotlight. I believe you all have just recently enjoyed Osechi-ryōri, so let’s talk some more about it.
Firstly, Osechi-ryōri is said to have originated from “sechiku-cuisine,” which is an offering to the gods during milestones of the four seasons, and Gosseku, the five annual ceremonies that were traditionally held at the Japanese imperial court. Though it has a long history in Japan, after the Edo Period, the only remaining celebration of it is, of course, New Year’s. Serving Osechi-ryōri in traditional boxes is a custom that began at the of the Edo Period.
The typical contents vary from region to region, but did you know that the various foods are meant to bring good luck in their own way? I will teach you about this more below. [Black Beans] = being able to complete one’s work healthily and heartily, even when “cooked” like a bean under the sun
[Small Dried Sardines] = “gomame” in Japanese; brings fortune for a bountiful harvest
[Herring Roe] = brings good fortune upon fertility
[Prawn] = good health in longevity, until your hips “bend like a shrimp’s”
[Chestnut Salad] = written with the Japanese character for “money,” blesses one with money and fortune
In addition to this, there is also: red and white kamaboko, promoting a healthy complexion, date rolls that promote studies and knowledge, and lotus root with holes that you can see the future through. Eating these celebratory foods brings good fortune and happiness when going into the new year.
Many department stores offer delivery of Osechi-ryōri dishes, which are quite popular. But in past years, it had been tradition for households to gather and teach their children how to prepare the dishes. For our second-year students’ final class of the year, there were asked to create a three-tiered Osechi-ryōri that also included nigiri-sushi (please see the photo above).
I hope you all will enjoy Osechi-ryōri and welcome a bright new year.
Source: Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku: The College Headmaster’s One-Dish Course Series.
Photo source: Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku: The College Headmaster’s One-Dish Course Series.