I’m back!

15 Nov


First off, sorry for the lack of updates recently. Graduate school applications have taken over my life and my immune system decided to go on vacation early this year. I promise I’ll be around more consistently from here on out.

This morning I woke up feeling horrible. Congested, sore throat, coughing, the whole shebang. I felt like I was a walking billboard for some new cold medicine. But after a cup of hot tea (with honey, of course) and this quick read by Helene York over at theatlantic.com, I started to feel a little better.

The article’s title, “What Americans Can Learn From Japanese Cuisine,” is what first caught my attention. What can we learn from Japanese cuisine that we haven’t already? Practically everyone knows what sushi is and can probably name their personal favorite. According to York, it’s the love invested into the preparation of each element of a meal. She uses Yoshinori Horii’s noodle-making presentation at a recent food conference in Napa Valley as an example:

The crowd of 250 or so mostly chefs and food company executives were mesmerized by this simple magic, appreciating the speed, sheer physicality, and elegant simplicity required to make these non-extruded long noodles. He got a standing ovation.

But what I enjoyed the most about this article was her proposal for how we should adopt aspects of Japanese cuisine to our own:

Japanese cuisine has its shortcomings too—high sodium and pickling, almost no whole grains, and a fondness for threatened seafood species—but my point is not to laud or deride. Let’s consider the elements that differ and imagine applying them to our own context. What if we adopted a goal of eating 30 food varieties every day? What if we aspired to wabi-cha cuisine as a complete work of art?

Although this specifically refers to Japanese cuisine, I think it’s a great way to look at all types of ethnic cuisines. We have experienced recent success in adopting other cuisines into our own–just look at the popularity of fusion cuisine today, but I think there is more ground to explore. As already mentioned, beauty and appreciation can also be found in the preparation of the food itself, and I feel that this is the missing puzzle piece in contemporary fusion cuisine. Fusion cuisine seems superficial with all the emphasis placed on blending generalized flavor profiles.

So perhaps what we should be aspiring to now is a new type of fusion cuisine that focuses on the preparation process in addition to the flavors presented on the dish.


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