Mysticism in Thailand

29 Sep

In the Gourmet Club, Tanazaki illustrates the power and splendor of food as having magical qualities: “Not only after a splendid meal, but even at the moment they all gathered around a table piled high with delicious things, they felt the same kind of excitement, the same rapture one does on hearing the finest orchestral music” (99). His describes magical food as having the ability to take over one’s body and encapsulate all the senses.

In one scene of the story, a member of the food club suggests they have some “good soft- shelled turtle soup.” The members reacted to the suggestion with great enthusiasm, “and their eyes and faces took on a curious shine… a wild, degraded look, like that of the hungry ghosts of Buddhists lore” (101). This reminded me of how my sister and I reacted to my father’s suggestion to try shark fin soup and seahorse soup at lunch in Thailand. We never thought of consuming either of these special sea creatures before and the idea was extremely exotic to us. My sister ordered the seahorse soup and I ordered the shark fin soup, and we agreed to share both. The first taste of the soup to my lips was euphoric and the sensation spread throughout my entire body. I glanced over at my sister and saw that she was having a similar experience. We soon elected to trade, and it was my turn to try seahorse! Both soups were extremely tasty but I was more taken by the exotisicm of these dishes. The soups had a sort of mystical effect that was like what Tanazaki illustrates in the story. Having dined in many different countries across several continents, after this meal I was able to conclude that Asian cuisine is certainly the most outlandish and risky. This type of cuisine is ideal in demonstrating the mysterious and exotic effect food may have—which I vividly recall feeling when trying shark fin and seahorse for the first time.

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