12 Days of Anime #10: Nourishment in Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma

“Karaage…the wafting steam, the nose-tingling spices, the plump chicken and the hot juices that course along your lips…one of the cornerstones of the Japanese dinner table is about to become a weapon in the ultimate fight for supremacy…”

Fried chicken anyone?

It would be remiss to go through 12 Days of Anime without mentioning food. After all, food is a big part of the holiday tradition. Family gatherings and parties of all sizes–they all (presumably) feature food of some kind. With winter winds taking the air out for a frostier spin, we instinctively crave warm, heartier meals. Homemade soups, savory heavy meats like chicken, turkey, or ham (or even all three!)…foods that are ultimately comfort foods dressed up for the holiday occasion. Delicious things need not be complicated–in fact, the simplest foods are often the ones we find the most satisfying.

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Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma has a bit of bad rep for being a little too bold-flavored and heavy-handed with its seasoning of fanservice. While the orgasmic experience of tasting really delicious food might raise a few eyebrows (or in my case, just a couple of awkward chuckles), I don’t think I have to tell you that most people do appreciate good food.  And ultimately, that’s the message that Shokugeki wants to tell–how to appreciate and make good food.

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Fried chicken has a special place in my heart–it’s something that I always eat with family for a special occasion, so I associate it with warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s fast food but good tasting and real enough that you don’t have to worry about what other junk might be mixed in. In episode 18, Souma and his merry karaage crew scheme up a sound business plan to crank out a karaage product that easily captures the hearts of Japanese commuters. Karaage doesn’t discriminate–it’s delicious in the hands of a salaryman, a housewife, or a student. I also loved the shoutout to the Vietnamese banh xeo–which is essentially the Vietnamese version of a savory crepe, try it sometime, it’s pretty darn delicious and shows that there’s more to Vietnamese cuisine than just pho noodles or banh mi sandwiches. There’s also a real communal aspect to Souma’s success that I find more appealing–in a shokugeki,  or food battle, it’s chef vs chef, but in this battle, Souma enlisted the help of all of the Sumire shopping center folks and maximized their resources in a feat that not only curbstomped Mozuya’s karaage monopoly but also revived the faltering shopping district back to life. Food tastes great when everyone wins, yes?

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