The Great Japanese Obsession

What the hell is going on in Japan? Is it just the television? I doubt it…the tv plays what the people want. What do the Japanese people want, you ask? Food. Lots and lots of food. Talkshows about food. Close-ups on food. Gameshows about food. Gameshows based on food loaded with close-ups of food, and cooking food, and eating food, and making wild ecstatic faces after tasting the food that is put before them, and commercials about food when there is a break in the gameshow about food…with lots of close-ups. What’s going on here? Now don’t get me wrong, I like food. I would even go so far as to say that I love food. Just to prove it, I took care of the meals last Monday, and although the eggs benedict for brunch left something to be desired, the supper spread was wicked (complete with chicken and broccolli penne alfredo, salad, and a cheese tray with olives).

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Notice Gramma’s contented cat named “Tora”, Japanese for “Tiger”, and also the code for the Japanese fighters to attack in World War II. OK, where was I…ah yes, my *completely reasonable* attraction to food. I do love food. But I eat, I enjoy, and then when it’s done, I think about something else until the next time I’m hungry. This is not the case in Japan.

Come to think of it, this whole “life revolving around food” thing is not a concept unique to Japan. This is one of the major differences between the North American mentality and that of most other countries I’ve visited. In North America, we eat to fulfill our bodily requirements. We enjoy the little amount of time we spend eating, primarily because of the pleasure it gives our tastebuds, but our social life does not revolve around dinner. For the most part, we shut up, eat what’s on our plate, and then leave the table to “relax and socialize” afterwards. But in Japan…and France…and Italy…and almost every other country where I’ve stayed with friends and really experienced the culture, supper *is* the afterwards; the meal stretches out for hours. Just eating (slowly) and drinking and chatting and relaxing takes up the whole damn night!

The funny thing is, after all this ranting, I’m not really sure which way is better. Eating slowly is healthier, and it sure is fun to eat for hours…and with diversity; it keeps things interesting when supper isn’t just one plate of food, but 12 different small dishes with a variety of sauces for dipping and drizzling. And chopsticks are much more fun than the knife and shovel. And lets face it, food (eaten slowly) is conducive to good conversation and social atmosphere, hence the trays of hors d’oeuvres at social gatherings. But I do miss stretching out on the couch after dinner and relaxing in comfort while you chat…it just isn’t as comfy sitting (or kneeling) at the dinner table.

But to come back from the tangent of my tangent, one thing I’m sure of: these people are food-crazy, they’ve taken it too far. Even if eating is a pleasant passtime for the entire night, tv programming does NOT need to revolve around it for the entire day. It’s time for Mike to take a stand against foreign policies in broadcasting: NO MORE CLOSE-UPS…

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~ by The Running Emu on February 18, 2007.

2 Responses to “The Great Japanese Obsession”

  1. Hi Mikey…
    Just read your email. Looks like you have some pretty exciting exploring adventures ahead. Kinda ironic that you sent an email during the second intermission of a game that we were both watching.Ain’t technolgy grand !! Pretty good finish…Matt Cooke seems to be really coming into the zone !!
    Pretty cool playground equipment. Wouldn’t get away with that in the west…Too many lawsuits !!! Reminded me of those Chinese “finger-cuffs” that get tighter as you pull your fingers apart.Looks like grandma really enjoyed the meal! I see a wine bottle in the background. Have you found a good Japanese vintage? How about wineries…any in the local area where you can do some sampling ??As for the food controversy I’d have to say we have the best of both worlds !! How,you say ???Eat most meals normally but when you want european [or japanese] style.. have a fondue !!! What about the best way of all to cook…BBQ..?? Any signs of that on the Island ?? Back to work tomorrow..altho’ I guess your Monday is almost over.Time to hit some Stude sites..ttfn……pops

    Hey Pops, I think the Canucks have finally found a good pairing with Cooke and Morrison; they’re on fire! Japanese wines are not great…some decent (sweet) whites, but more like coolers than wine. Lots available from France and the likes though. Funny you should mention the fondue…we just had a cheese fondue last night (my first ever). BBQing isn’t big out here, but I have been assured that it does happen in the summer. Now what are these stud sites you’re talking about…have you been downloading gay porn again dad? And after you promised mom you wouldn’t, I’m so disappointed…

  2. Hi Mike, that looks like a pretty good spread of food you made. I can hardly wait till you make us our five course meal next time we’re in Victoria. Love ya, Mom

    Sure thing Mom…does KD and Ketchup count as 2 courses if you put the ketchup on a side plate?

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