Is it really cooking when all you are doing is cutting?
It is an argument I have heard before. How can you really call something like sashimi “cooking” when there is no cooking involved? Ah the chef is doing is cutting, and the quality of the dish depends entirely on the quality of the ingredients. Is Japanese cuisine really “cooking?”
That is one of the challenges taken up by Yamaoka Shiro in this volume of “ Oishinbo A la Carte.” As with all volumes of this Viz Signature ”A la Carte” series, the100-volume plus story of “Oishinbo” (Translating as “Delicious Boy”) has been chopped up and re-segmented by Viz, with the story slices served thematically
The theme for this volume is “Japanese Cuisine.” Yamaoka and crew go through a number of traditional Japanese dishes and customs and why they are awesome. The stories include a Japanese girl who studied abroad in France and now refuses to use chopsticks because they seem provincial and backwards, and the fancy new “Western style” Japanese restaurant in Ginza that puts all the effort on flashy presentation and none on the food, or the esteemed visitor from the US and who can put on the ultimate Japanese food experience for him.
As always, Yamaoka knows exactly which obscure restaurant to go to, of what the US dignitary really wants. There are a few recipes included, but be warned: “Oishinbo” is famous in Japan for being all talk and no walk. The recipes are often quite unpalatable when actually prepared.
I love the series “Oishinbo,” but I don’t really like how Viz Signature has released them. Aside from the cooking, there is an actual ongoing story in “Oishinbo,” and the way Viz has grouped the stories means that we just get little slices here and there. The story can drastically change in a few pages, such as Yamaoka barely acknowledging his pretty co-worker Kurita Yuko to them being married in the next story, taken from a volume years out of date.
This “Japanese Cuisine” volume wasn’t too bad, but it still makes for a jarring and disappointing reading experience. I don’t know why Viz decided to publish the series this way, instead of the usual chronological style starting with volume one. I don’t believe they have done this with any other series, and they must have thought it more marketable.