The Raw and the Cooked
I had an opportunity to taste Kaiseki, the Japanese traditional multi-course dinner. This sort of food is said to be very sophisticated. These meals are analogous to Western haute cuisine.
Only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and are prepared in ways that aim to enhance their flavor. Finished dishes are carefully presented on plates that are chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal.
If you look at the first picture, you will notice that there are some sashimi (sliced raw seafood) on the plate. A French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss wrote the famous phrase: 'Le cru et le cuit" that the raw food means the wild, and the cooked food is the civilized. The English translation of this phrase, however, is incomplete though it is not incorrect. "Cuit" in French does not necessarily mean "cooked", but is also used to denote "done". Still, eating raw animal meat is usually regarded as an uncivilized act, I think. If I said to an American that I eat raw beef, the person would be astonished of my brutal behavior.
Perhaps, the word "raw" implies the "life", and people associates eating raw meat with pain and disrespect to the slaughtered animal. The underlying concern in the international criticism against the Japanese whaling and fishery culture is respect for the animal. The respect to the animal in Japanese culture may be visible in its culinary culture where we see the beautifully garnished dishes.