So I cooked like a madman today. Only problem was I planned out of sync with my fellow family-chefs that my dishes were a scale above the cut. What would’ve been a homely end to a scrumptious and wholesome Asian-American Thanksgiving meal was a dash too Italian and a pot too foreign for the familiar tongue. Recalling new episodes of Iron Chef America (which is by all means inferior than the original, but nonetheless inspirational and educational) I saw last night reminds me the importance of cohesion in a multi-course meal, even if it is a half-potluck between me and 8 other people. I should’ve known what they were bringing anyways…
And I should’ve known that I’m out of my reach when I had to wiki up what the hell is parsnip and stopped there. But hey, I like to try new stuff. And for that matter the dishes were successful as themselves.
But when Renji Asou’s mother noted about the fastest way to a man’s heart, it just occurred to me: Just how many western anime viewers can relate to that culinary aspect to modern Japanese life? Sure, we have stuff like actual anime involving the various culinary arts–East Asian societies love to cook and eat so it’s no surprise that it makes a good topic–but what does that mean to you when it isn’t prominently the subject of the show?
What does it mean for Aoi, the dressing character and your neighborhood squeak toy from Myself;Yourself? Or Renji Asou himself? Or those lunches made by each of them? In my own estimate cooking and eating is a tight knit to the Japanese soul–if it’s anything like your typical Korean or Chinese souls–and it has a pretty big role in life generally unlike what we’d imagine in the west. In fact, I don’t even know if we can properly imagine it.
But on the flip side, eating and fellowship over food is just another cultural thing like family dinners and starving as a poor artist. People take it for granted, but when it’s written into a show like ef, you know it’s anything but.
Just what kind of cuisine paves the road to an otaku’s heart? Choco coronets? Canned stew? Akiko’s jam? I don’t know and I would hope we’re a more sophisticated lot than that. But in anime, manga and game, just how does it work together? Do you even care?
But I do know anime goes well after a good, hearty meal that you cooked yourself and am proud of, partook with friends and family. That’s feeling like Aoi, I hope.