I love eating things I know. I love eating things I don’t know.
Some call it for science, but for me, it’s closer to epicurean curiosity. There’s a lot of things we stuff in our mouths and we hardly even question how these things are made or where they came from. Somehow, we have reduced ourselves to eating whatever tastes great and somehow that makes the eating experience half as fun as it should.
Moyashimon is a manga I grew to love not only because of the cute bacterias (that seems to be a great hit among most fans) but because the series unravels the mystery of the food we eat, particularly strange fermented food that we’d rather not touch with a ten-foot pole.
The leader of this ragtag crew is none other than Itsuki-sensei, a culinary explorer, the kind that would possibly dive in underground caves just to taste what bats eat at night. Well, not really. But seeing him glug down a kiviak’s blood on the first chapter only shows his enthusiasm for anything fermented. The man is a connoisseur when it comes to his food and whether he sees the bacteria or not, he will definitely have a taste for food.
And Itsuki-sensei’s love for food is nothing but admirable. I’ve seen him lead the boys down crazy roads of wine making and cheese making just to teach them the intricate machinery of balancing bacteria and food. Odd, isn’t it? Who knew that we need the very germs that we hate to make food taste a lot better.
And reading through the pages of Moyashimon has left me wondering if those food really tasted great. What was the difference between a Bulgarian yogurt from a Japanese yogurt? Just how can the natto bacteria really change a soybean?
The countless of products featured in Moyashimon eventually led me to a strange trip towards our local Japanese Grocer. I found myself standing in front of rows of natto and tried to sum up the courage to try this culinary curiosity. Strange things entered my head, one of which was hearing a soft whisper from Itsuki-sensei, egging me to give it a try. It didn’t help that prior to that day, I had been watching Iron Chef and saw this epic natto battle. Just… what exactly does this bean have for the Japanese folks to consume it so much. And after ten other people picked up a pack of natto before me, I eventually got the courage to have some natto. I eventually chose the packet that had a happy family drawn on it. I thought, if they looked happy, then I’d probably be happy too.
What came after was a total surprise. Not only did the natto not kill me but I also ended up loving natto.
I’m quite sure I’m not alone when it comes to trying out some food because of manga. Whether it’s strawberry shortcake or even pizza hut, I’m confident in saying that there’s a number of you who tried out something because of a subtle product placement in manga.
I’d like to hear your story and I’d love to hear what manga encouraged you to try something new to eat! It doesn’t have to be as crazy as what I did but it’s definitely a taste that you definitely owe to a manga~!
As an incentive, I’m giving away Volume 2 of Moyashimon for one of our epicurean readers! It’s one of my favorite food/agriculture manga and I’m quite sure you’ll find the epic fermentation journey of Itsuki-sensei interesting!
This giveaway open to all of my readers from Manila, to Japan, to Poland, and even in the US. Just leave a comment about your culinary manga journey and you might have a chance of winning Moyashimon! And yes, it’s theEnglish version.
Winners will be selected at 6 a.m., August 12, 2011, Hong Kong Standard Time. That’d be 6:00 p.m. EST for those who live in New York, noon for those who live in London, and 5 a.m. for those in Japan.
Note: The Moyashimon bento above is from Anna the Red! She makes fantastic character bentou. You guys should check out her ghibli bento too!