Friday, January 23, 2009

The TOKYO TRILOGY (Episode II): CARVING INTO THE SOUL

After all the food hunting and feeling the city’s pulse, first in my mind would be beyond my reason for being here: to reflect more profoundly the essence of cooking. Looking into the heart of the cuisine, it is evident that I am in fact a blank slate – I know nothing at all about Japanese cooking.

So smile, though I am becoming more aware now of my own ignorance. You stay up a little late for a cup of coffee...


It’s past midnight but there are miles to go before you sleep… and miles to go before you sleep.


You wake up at five a.m tomorrow, and again you have to pay attention to the sensei and make sure that, like a sponge, you absorb every single word that he is saying. And fortunately at the train, nobody cares if you are carrying around a knife.

Not to reveal here the details of the training- but those are the sensei's hands. He has such genial knife skills he could slice up a radicchio in a few seconds with the perfection of a mandoline. I just learned that there's a technique in slicing octopus arms or making the onsen tamago.. and that there's so much to learn about mushrooms... and in the science and art of tea making and coffee brewing - the Japanese way.
This sensei is the best teacher I've ever seen. He is like a bamboo. The more that he knows, the lower he bows. He knows you're an a student and you are there to learn, and he is there to teach. No swearing, no ego. He finds a lot of positive things in your mistakes - and his.
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You may not to go to the Tsukiji Market for the fish auction, but you have to, nevertheless, go to a market. What kind of market?
Here, in the very windy Kappabashi.
This is Kappabashi. Out from the subway, the cold wind was blowing straight at my face.


There's that long stretch of kitchenware stores there - the haven of cooks.

All sorts of Japanese wares…


A giant chef-
Hashi rests, namiyaki pans, sauce pans... and rabbits and owls staring at me at a staircase landing :)

The blades. Feast your eyes, Huntress- san. Feast your eyes.



See that green creature over thre? Cute, isn't it? Did you notice what he's holding? A cleaver? Don't be fooled, then, that creature guards the gates of a knife store.


There is something about the Japanese knives that intrigue me. They have a reputation for being the world’s sharpest knives. I will not delve here on the ceremony of the samurai sword forging, but rather, the only thing that popped in my mind right that day is the correlation of the Japanese’s respect on things. A good knife indicates reverence to food. When a sharp blade cuts through the flesh- whether a fish or a vegetable- the integrity of the tissues is preserved such that they are neither dilapidated nor ugly, but only prepared and carved in a wiser manner.



This is a store of those famous window displays. That's the best birthday cake I've ever seen in my life. When someday I have my own children, I'd bake a cake like that. Kasutera inside.

Angel of Knives, my guardian dear...

2 comments:

Zen Chef said...

I could spend ALL DAY in that knife store. Love Japanese blades. You're very lucky Foodhuntress.

I love to stay up late and drink coffee late when i'm travelling too. :-)

foodhuntress79 said...

Zen Chef, do you really have in possession a real katana-knife? I think a "ZEN" chef of your caliber should! :)