Saturday, May 2, 2009

Oishinbo A La Carte

Oishinbo A La Carte is a manga series being published in translation by Viz Media. The basic story is about Yamaoka Shirô, and Kurita Yûko who have been assigned to a special anniversary project for the newspaper they work for. Their assignment is called The Ultimate Menu and their job is to research food and write about it. Add Shirô's knowledge of food and drink plus a years long conflict with his father and a variety of interesting situations and this is one interesting manga.

What they are doing which is unusual is they are not issuing the volumes in order, rather they are picking individual chapters and story arcs related to a theme and putting them together. This may sound dubious but it works as the reader gets to focus on one aspect of Japanese cuisine at a time. Hopefully some day we shall see a translation in the regular order but until then we have one interesting series to enjoy.

The first volume is devoted in general to Japanese cuisine so we get to see a variety to get us into the swing of things, then comes the second volume Sake. The sake volume is not exactly what many Westerners would expect as sake to the Japanese means any alcoholic beverage rather than Nihonshu, the brewed traditional alcoholic beverage of Japan. But don't let that put you off there is plenty about Nihonshu as well as other Japanese alcoholic beverages. You will even learn about proper storage and use with foods.

This is a title I think would work well with any adult manga collection, and would be popular with some younger readers.

Volume 3 will be Ramen & Gyoza (due May 19), and 4 will be Fish, Sushi,& Sashimi (due July 14)

1 comment:

tudza said...

I'm trying to decide if the amount of new information these books might provide is worth the annoyance factor of how it is presented.

I've read several chapters in the sake book. If you haven't had good sake and access to a sake bar, it might be more interesting, but there are lots of more obscure bits. The part about the distilled liquor particular to Okinawa was certainly new to me.

These sorts of stories have problems that annoy me greatly though.

They set up strawmen to knock down. Don't bother just tell me your information without producing some blowhard to upstage.

There has to be a "right" answer to everything, and in the world of food I'm thinking there's lots of room for valid differences of opinion.

Sometimes the information from the "expert" can turn out to be wrong, so now you've magnified the error ten fold and re-enforced my opinion that the expert is a pompous ass.

It's just the damned formulaic nature of it that bugs me I guess. All the competition racing, eating, cooking, Go, Mahjong, pachinko, topspinning, whatever. "Oh no, he's about to lose!" "No, he will win, I understand his true plan..." blah blah blah

Cooking Papa, that's what we need more of. It's not about who knows best or competitions, it is about making someone a nice meal after a hard day. Keep your damned snooty "Ultimate Menu" for the club you can't get into if you eat freshly killed duck and drink new wine.