I am currently sitting at gate 81 at Narita International Airport waiting for my flight home. Two bowls of Japanese beef curry later, I’m feeling inspired to write a little bit about the beauty of Japanese food.
For those of you who are familiar with Japanese culture, you’ll know that the Japanese pay special attention to detail in everything that they do; in Japanese, it’s called “Omoiyari.” What a “job” is to you and me, is an “art” to the Japanese. Years are spent mastering this “art”; waitresses, doormen, cab drivers, you name it, their goals are to become the best that they can be at what they do. It’s not something that you can say you are, or claim that you embody; it’s a genuine passion and discipline that becomes your philosophy in life.
On a recent trip to Hokkaido, my family and I were surrounded by the beauty of food. I might sound naive to say that art is all around, but it is, for those that seek it anyway. I seek beauty beyond the icy-cold Boston winters when I walk to class. I also seek it when I’m on the back of a motorcycle, zig-zagging between cars at a red light in Bangkok. Its just when I’m around food I find that this sense and awareness becomes elevated. In this way, the Japanese and I speak the same language; they just get me.
As someone once said: “We eat with our eyes first.” To admire the work, and the placement of each ingredient on your plate is a way you can pay tribute to the artist in the kitchen.
There are art pieces that you walk by at museums, and those that catch your attention, make you stare, and sometimes makes you cry. This becomes a moment that connects you and the artist at a personal level. It is as if you have reached the same plane of understanding and appreciation for the work. This intimate connection is one that I have with chefs via their food, and makes each meal meaningful to me.
These are just a few of the masterpieces that I came across during my trips to Tokyo and Hokkaido this year. Be my guest and feast your eyes on them.