Media


Lately I’ve been watching a Japanese television series that has the same plotline (if you can even call it that) for every episode and has been running for four seasons already. It’s Kodoku no Gurume, or the Solitary Gourmet, originally a manga series about a travelling salesman, where each chapter covers a particular restaurant somewhere in Japan at which he dines. And that’s the main thing in the television series too – his eating.

Every episode is our protagonist Goro having some client meeting somewhere in Japan and post-meeting, his having some crisis of empty stomach that needs rectifying. He goes in search of a restaurant that satisfies his criteria of a good restaurant (not necessarily expensive but with good homey food) and then we spend at least half the episode watching him order and eat the food. And damn, do I get hungry watching his ridiculously expressive face while eating. It can get a little slow going – I mean, he is actually eating and chewing the food in real-time – but his thoughts are going on as he chews and whatnot.

And here’s the best part too – every one of the restaurants he eats at is real and actually exists in Japan! At the end of each episode, Masayuki Kusumi, the original writer of the manga series, visits the restaurant and tries the food and interacts with the real owners and staff (the staff at the restaurants are replaced with actors in the series).

But don’t just listen to me – go and watch it – Umamimart has links to the episodes with English subtitles. It really is absolutely brilliant. You might get hooked (and if you do, ….uh, don’t blame me).

As an aside, I do wish I saw this programme before visiting Japan as it’s a great way of learning about the food and restaurant culture of the country!

Now a television series. The short ten-episode 2009 Japanese series Osen has kept me busy for a couple weeks earlier this year. It’s the story of a very traditional Japanese restaurant in Tokyo and its charismatic proprietress and a young man wanting to learn traditional Japanese cuisine.

Here’s the first episode, with English subtitles, on YouTube:

All the episodes are available on YouTube and make for some addictive watching, even with the over-the-top ways in which the food is proclaimed delicious! Each episode focuses on one particular Japanese dish and they prepare it with enough detail in the show that you feel like you can put together a similar version at home. Hambagu, here I come!

I first learned of The Lunchbox, an Indian romantic film where tiffins play a big role, through a friend on Facebook, where she posted the trailer and her thoughts on the film. I was intrigued enough to even mention the possibility of our going to the cinema to see it one day to Blai. To my surprise, an invitation to attend a screening of The Lunchbox popped into my inbox a few days later and I didn’t hesitate in accepting it.

Here’s the international trailer for the film.

It’s a lovely and sweet story, modelled around the whole system of dabbawalas in Mumbai, the highly efficient tiffin delivery system. It’s so efficient that it’s said that only 1 delivery mistake is made in 6-8 million deliveries. Well, this plot only happens due to one of these rare mistakes! Anyway, I don’t want to give away anything of the story – go see it yourself! Watching it made me wish that Ram’s was next door for an Indian vegetarian lunch!

The screening was quite fun too – in the funky screening room in the basement of the Soho Hotel.

What a fantastic screening room they have at The Soho Hotel

We were each provided with a dabba (tiffin) of Indian snacks that went perfectly with the film. If you’re curious what was in the dabba, here’s a link to photos of all of the snacks.

Thank you very much, Jake and Curzon, for the invitation!

I am addicted to the somewhat ridiculous Japanese “drama” series Lunch Queen, or Lunch no Joou. This blog entry by she bakes and she cooks led me to the 2002 show’s existence. Just watch that video above (first episode, part 1 of 6) and tell me if you don’t get a craving for omurice!

It’s only 12 episodes long and so you’ll only be wasting away approximately 12 hours of your life. Well, maybe wasting away is a bit harsh – I’m 7 episodes in and the plot (which at the beginning is frankly very silly) is starting to get quite interesting. The story is of a girl who ends up at a restaurant run by a family with 4 brothers. That’s all I’ll tell you – you’ve just got to watch it. There is some cod-philosophy kicking about through the entire series that is a bit cringeworthy though.

But the food! You get to see many contemporary Japanese dishes such as omurice, hayashi rice, curry rice, hamburg, and children’s meals and many home cooked meals eaten at the back of the restaurant in the family home. This is food porn at its best! You can find all the videos on YouTube here.

Demiglace!

Ratatouille looks amazing! I’ve seen nothing about it in the UK – no ads, no commercials, nothing. Why are they ignoring what will obviously be the best film this year?!! To keep it short, the film is about a gourmet rat called Remy helping Linguini, a lowly kitchen cleaner, to the heights of culinary wizardry. Or something like that – I can’t help it; I pay more attention to all the little details in the kitchen and wonder how the animators did it all. Is it sick of me to get a thrill at watching this trailer and becoming all excited because I have the same microplane grater that they’re using in the kitchen? No,wait, don’t answer that.

Longer preview videos (that’s just the teaser above) can be found on YouTube and on the official Disney site. I have to admit that I’m also loving the game on the official site involving veggie chopping! Chop chop.

An article in the New York Times details how the Pixar crew studied with Thomas Keller and ate at notable restaurants in Paris. They’ve truly done their research and it’s apparent to see in all the preview clips. There are even rumours that Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria, among others, provided their voices for minor roles.

It comes out in cinemas in the US on June 29. Unfortunately for me, the film opens in the UK only in October!

I’m loving this BBC series, Cooking in the Danger Zone. I was genuinely frightened for him in the Chernobyl episode! And the roast suckling pig in Tonga…ooooh! I want one!

Thanks to Cooking in the Danger Zone, I learned about this terrific Chinese fast food chain – Kung Fu! I can’t read a single thing on that page but I’m content to look at the pictures.

Frank Bruni in the New York Times has written about the glory that is fat showing up on many menus in New York restaurants.

There’s a picnic special in this week’s TimeOut! Let’s hope the weather holds for some great outdoor eating!

Not very recent, but this pig would make some pretty big bacon.

I nicked this link from Serious EatsWhat’s Cooking Grandma? is full of videos of grandmothers sharing their special recipes.

There was a terrific review for Kiasu, a Malaysian restaurant in Bayswater, in the Guardian this past Saturday. It’s definitely on my hit list!

Also an excellent review of the Forge at TimeOut. I visited with a friend about 2 weeks ago and had a very good foie gras with orange and brioche, ribeye steak and frites, and pistachio souffle.

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