"It's not very common in other countries to eat fish raw. And since it's raw, people might think it doesn't take a lot of skill. But for fish or meat to be eaten raw, a great deal of technique is required. We should be proud that Japanese cuisine has developed such delicious ways to prepare sashimi."
This is a very "meaty" manga. All puns aside, it has a definite message and carries a fascinating look at the Japanese culture and cuisine - which are very closely intertwined.
We follow the story of a father and son who have had a feud with one another. Both are Japanese chefs in their own right, the son being more of an amateur learning and the father one of the finest in the country. They repeatedly run into one another causing much drama, which is hilarious and perfect and really gives the story a lot more character.
The artwork for the characters is fairly typical, from my limited experience in manga. It's not quite as beautiful as some others that I've seen but the drawing of the food is so precise and delicate, I could almost taste it.
If this is your first Manga, be prepared to read it a little differently. You being at the end of the book and read from right to left, rather from left to right. It took me a few pages of getting used to, but I adapted well and enjoyed reading the story so much I forgot how I was reading it.
Through this first volume I've learned the correct method of cutting fish to several ways of serving seabream, learned how the food should be enjoyed, how chopsticks are made and why they are such a valued cultured item. I've learned how rice should be made and that it is a delicate, difficult task to make it well.
There were a few moments in this volume that really spoke to me. The first was the passage I quoted above. The second is out of the middle of the book in a section where the author is speaking to us, the readers. He says:
Eventually, I realized "What is Japan", "What does it mean to be Japanese?" "What is Japanese cuisine?" are all meaningless questions. It is the spirit of washoku that brings everything together as one in harmony.
So, one day, looking around my dining table at several Australians enjoying a meal at my house, I realized that what we were all eating wasn't "Japenese food" of "Japanese cuisine," but washoku: a cuisine that brings people together in harmony and gives them pleasure. Here in my house in Sydney, I eat washoku every day.
Reading that made me want to experience that feeling more often. It made me want to change every mealtime to one of washoku. A time for pleasure, harmony and togetherness. I think that's something we all want to experience on a daily basis.