Hot and Cold

28 Sep

Magic is commonly thought of as the art of producing a desired effect through the use of techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. In Tanazaki’s “Gourmet Club”, magic takes on a whole different meaning. He describes Count G.’s accidental discovery of a Chinese “gourmet club” quite different than his own; one that explores various delights to satisfy his jaded taste of Japanese food. Magic to him is an extraordinary influence or power in the flavors of the food that seem to captivate and take over his senses.

One experience I had just the opposite of Count G’s. Having been born and raised in Hong Kong, I have pretty much eaten nothing but Chinese food. Even the Japanese food that I rarely eat is non-traditional and changed to suit the taste of Chinese people. However, when I went to Japan last year, I was able to experience the “magic” of true Japanese cuisine. My family and I went into a shop that sold nothing but soba. We thought this was interesting as many Chinese people think that Japanese food is nothing but sushi and sashimi. Initially, I was reluctant to try the restaurant since I was never a fan of soba. However, this traditional Japanese meal totally blew my mind.

Once the tray arrived, I could already smell the aroma of the buckwheat noodles. Just by the look of it, you could tell that the noodles were absolutely fresh. Each bite that I took was amazing; the noodles were cooked perfectly, a bit chewy, yet not so much that I would not be able to swallow it. I could feel the cold sensation of the sauce and noodles slowly going down my throat and into my stomach. It wasn’t really an icy cold feeling, more like a soothing chill. Finishing off by drinking the soup used to cook the soba, I had a warm, fulfilled sensation at the end of the meal, one magical moment that I will never forget.

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