One of the things I love about Japanese comic books (manga), is the availability of manga related to food. Food makes its way into other genres as well, whether its teenagers talking about boys during lunch, coworkers discussing their problems while grilling meat and drinking beer, or sulking with a cup of instant noodles. I’ve found that I’ve learned much about the Japanese cuisine merely by reading series I enjoy, and finding scenes where the plot may involve, or revolve around food.
One day when I was shopping for new manga at Kinokuniya (a very popular Japanese bookstore which has locations in the U.S.), I found this on the new releases table. I didn’t pay too much attention to the text (and my Japanese isn’t very good), but from the picture and some of the kanji written on the cover I could tell it involved food. The first word of the title I knew already, which is the word manga (マンガ). The second, I figured it had to do something with food as the first character is used for food terms but didn’t know what it meant. 食堂 – in romaji “shokudou” generally means cafeteria or dining room.
I had originally thought this was going to be some sort of manga involving food. But I was surprised when I removed the plastic film covering the book! It’s not a manga at all! But even better! This book is about food in different manga series! They show a scene within different series that is either a character eating something, or a drawing of an entree. Then they go into how you would go about cooking the dish and making it look like the drawing within the manga. This book covers series aimed at male and females. The photo below is from a woman’s title called Otoko no Isshou (A Man’s Life), which is about this aging professor and him falling in love with the granddaughter of one of his former teachers. The recipes they make are clam gratin and some sort of other dish with clams.
Some of the dishes they make are not practical, or even look like they’d be good. There’s a fried rice dish which is served in a glass and at the bottom is a toy car. But most of the recipes they try to research and create something edible (and tasty looking).