Today was the day I was separated from my family. I have been living in a glass container with my family for 15 days. They have been with me ever since I was born. Five of my brothers and six of my sisters have been taken from me by the loud, big-eyed captors. My mother tells me they are part of a savage, ever living species and are known as “humans”. I see them more as villains, hunters who take my species captive just for fun.
Today, our caretaker, a large, hairy idiot who eats nauseating orange sticks, stuck his hand in our home and violated our privacy. He does whenever one of the smaller big-eyed captors sticks his nose and stubby fingers on our glass windows. This unfortunate event happens every so often and we all swim for our lives. Despite our efforts, he always catches one of us. Today, it was my turn.
Our caretaker stuck a plastic bag into our home and shook his hairy arm around. It felt like the end of the world for us as we chaotically swam from one end to another. He grabbed me by my fins and isolated me into the bag. He then handed me over to a small girl who took the bag, my new home, and created havoc. She shook my bag and created a hurricane. No matter how hard I tried, I could not move, I was a cripple in my new home. This was the moment I realized I did not have much longer to live—my life was almost over.
Mythical foods have a magical element to them; they empower people and serve as a symbol, connecting them to the past. In Momotaro’s story, Momotaro comes to earth in a giant peach and is found by an old woman who takes him in. She and her husband decide to name the boy Momotaro, which translates to “peach boy” in English. Thus, a magical story about peaches in Japan emerges.
Johnny Appleseed is the magical story of how apples spread throughout the United States. The myth claims that Johnny Appleseed was a legendary American who planted and supplied apple trees across much of the United States of America. He loved apples so much that he wanted everyone to be given the opportunity to taste the fruit, thus, he planted apple seeds wherever he went. He is portrayed as a successful man with a simple life. In fact, myth claims that Johnny Appleseed would travel around with a cooking pot as a hat and no shoes. He is portrayed as a nature loving, kind, and gentle man.
In Momotaro’s story, millet dumplings serve as patriotic and heroic foods that give heroes the strength to fight. They were given to him by the old man and woman who took him in. Throughout the story, the dumplings serve as food that Momotaro uses to lure others to fight with him. They give Momotaro and his friends a sense of unity that leads to victory. The apples in Appleseed’s story serve a similar function as they unite the United States, bringing together the eastern and western parts of the country. As Johnny Appleseed peacefully traveled across the United States planting his seeds, he broke down the barriers of the east and west. His story glorifies apples as a very patriotic fruit with a rich past.
According to Tanazaki, magical food is food that is felt by your entire body; it is food that invigorates all the senses.
Thai Kitchen, a small restaurant I have been going to for the past 15 years, serves the most scrumptious Thai food I have ever tasted. The pad kee mow is particularly delectable. It is the perfect combination of opposites—comprising tastes that are both spicy and sweet, ingredients that are both raw and cooked, textures that are both smooth and rough. It is not only tantalizing in the mouth, but you can hear the crunch of the vegetables as you take a bite. The presentation is a myriad of colors and flavors—it’s as if you begin to taste the dish by just looking at it. When you set sight on the noodles and chicken, you see a perfectly golden masterpiece—it is as if you can see the magical ingredients glistening off them. It is a truly magical experience.
It is as if the cook casts a spell on the food before it reaches the customer; the customer leaves, desiring more, already making plans to return.
If Fukuoka were looking down on us from the heavens, he would be looking at us with disappointment and disgust in his eyes. Fukuoka was an advocate for simplicity in food. He believed in the natural form of food— organically grown food with little, if any, alteration. According to Fukuoka, people should live with nature and not separate themselves from it; they should learn how to coexist with it in its pure form. To him, food and the human spirit should be one. Thus, a human should be “satisfied with simple food, it is nutritious, tastes good and is useful daily medicine” (Fukuoka 136). Today, this is certainly not the case.
We live in Southern California where food has become a culture, a form of expression. The natural ingredients have taken backstage, and the chef’s ability to use the ingredients and create a masterpiece has come to define cuisine. Due to the extravagant affair eating is today, a new class of people has emerged—the modern “foodie”. A “foodie” is basically an arrogant eater, someone who prides himself in recognizing quality food and believes he has the right to criticize cuisine. Today, because of the many restaurants and ethnic cuisines that exist, the “foodie” has become very common. In fact, every other person is a “foodie” of some sort.
To Fukuoka, the “foodie” is the enemy. He feels as if the “foodie” has missed the whole purpose of eating. Instead of being united, “food and the human spirit have become estranged” (Fukuoka 136). Eating should focus on the natural flavors of food, not the seasoning or cooking technique. Modern day cuisine has confused the human spirit, creating chaos. For Fukuoka, this is disaster. In his perfect world, eating would be a simple process with simple ingredients and simple ambiance. No one would be able to pride themselves as a “foodie” because food would be pretty standard. The ostentatious food industry would not exist.
Much to Fukuoka’s disappointment, the industry is not changing. Elaborate food is so ingrained in society, that there is no going back. In fact, Fukuoka’s view feels very primitive and unrealistic. I’m sure there are still some advocates of simplicity today, but their movement is not revolutionizing anything. The various cuisines are here to stay and eating will continue to be an extravagant affair.
Cupcake cravings. My family has them all the time. Whether it’s making a stop at Sprinkles when we’re in Newport or stopping at Crumbs in LA or Magnolia in NY—we always need our cupcake fix. We’ve become cupcake connoisseurs of some sort. That’s why we decided it was time to take cupcake baking in our own hands and decided to combine the specific tastes we like in the various brands of cupcakes and create a cupcake masterpiece.
My sister and I searched online for cupcake recipes of our favorite cupcake stores and printed them out. We combined the ingredients and checked to see which ones overlapped and which ones were constant. This made it easy to spot the ingredients that made the cupcakes unique to their brands. In the end, we had a list of secret ingredients and cupcake must haves. We made sure to use all of the ingredients in the cupcake must haves and then depending on our preferences, we used the secret ingredients.
For the frosting, we wanted a Red Velvet frosting taste, and so we combined that of Sprinkles and Magnolia and created a perfectly whipped cream cheese taste. The end result was a batch of scrumptious cupcakes with a homemade twist.
Unfortunately, the homemade cupcake days did not last. The first batch was our last batch. Somehow, we were never able to re-create the scrumptious cupcakes we made the first time. Now that I think about it, it might have been because we never wrote down what we were doing and were cooking off of memory, which, sad to say, failed us.