Food Manga Featured on NPR’s Hidden Kitchens
Every now and then, something really fun and cool comes my way. This morning, I (and peeps from VIZ Media and Crunchyroll) were featured on the National Public Radio Morning Edition show, as part of the Kitchen Sisters‘ Hidden Kitchens podcast.
The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, regularly create fun audio stories about food and cooking on NPR. For their latest series of stories, they’re focused on food and war. So it just made sense for them to do a segment on Food Manga, which tends to focus a lot on competitive cooking.
You can listen to the podcast here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/08/488385808/food-manga-where-culture-conflict-and-cooking-all-collide
If you’re interest is piqued by the manga and anime we discussed in the story, here are a few that are available to read and watch in English now:
Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma featured on NPR Morning Edition
by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki – published by VIZ Media, anime now on Crunchyroll.com and Hulu
Soma is a young chef who grew up cooking alongside his father at the family restaurant owned by his family. But Soma isn’t just a kid who can cook: he’s also fiercely competitive and imaginative, two skills that come in handy when he gets sent by his father to the Totsuki Academy, a world-famous culinary-focused high school where the best of the best compete to create dishes that will get them high-paying careers as top-flight chefs.
Sure, Food Wars covers some very sophisticated culinary concepts such as molecular gastronomy, and how to create smoked and fermented foods, and it provides simplified recipes so readers can recreate some of the mouth-watering dishes served in the manga — but let’s face it, one reason why it’s so popular with Shonen Jump readers is the drama, humor and unabashed fanservice served up with tongue-firmly-in-cheek. Let’s just say that when some of the characters eat something REALLY delicious, their clothes (metaphorically) explodes off their bodies. Yes, they get (kinda) nekkid. It’s shocking at first, but it’s mostly played for laughs later, as even the men, old and young are also subject to the exploding clothing and wacky dress-up that symbolizes their utter surrender to deliciousness.
The boob jokes can be a bit off-putting to people who aren’t used to manga and anime fanservice, but if you can stick around for a volume or two, you’ll discover that Food Wars has some interesting things to say about cooking, food, restaurants, and what it means to be a great chef. Come for the food, stay for the goofy comedy, and stick around for the mouth-watering cliffhangers. Food Wars is a fun ride for readers who like food, comics, and comics about food.
Go check it out — but be warned if you do it on an empty stomach! Your tummy will be growling within a chapter or two of this tasty comic series.
Oishinbo Ala Carte: The Joy of Rice by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki
by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki – published by VIZ Media
One of the longest running and best-selling series about cooking and food in Japan is Oishinbo. Oishinbo (The Gourmet) is up to 111 volumes in Japan, which makes publishing the entire run in English a daunting task for VIZ Media. So to give N. American readers a taste of this series, VIZ published 7 volumes of Oishinbo Ala Carte, which featured collections of Oishinbo stories which focused on different aspects of Japanese cuisine. Topics included rice, sake, noodles, vegetables, fish, and izakaya cooking.
Oishinbo is basically about a young reporter Shiro Yamaoka who is charged with finding the best food in Japan for an article. He’s teamed up with a fellow reporter Yuko Kurita (whom he later marries), and the adventure begins. But all’s not tasty food and fine dining: Yamaoka has a nemesis of sorts: his father, who is a well-known (and very wealthy) gourmet who hosts dinners featuring only the very finest culinary creations made from the most exquisite ingredients. Father and son often face off, challenging each other to define what is truly great and what is an also-ran in the battle for tastebud supremacy.
Oishinbo can get over-the-top with its melodrama (in manga? say it ain’t so!) but it does offer an interesting glimpse into the world of food as seen through Japanese eyes. It’s entertaining and educational — for example, I learned a lot about nihonshu that I definitely didn’t know before I picked up Oishinbo Vol. 2: Sake. Same goes for the volumes on Rice and Ramen and Gyoza. If you’d like to take your knowledge of Japanese food and culture up a notch, you’ll find no more enjoyable way to do it than to read Oishinbo.