Tag Archives: “foodie”

Art, Skill, or Both?

16 Sep

Some people would call someone who makes food that’s good for you a chef. Others call someone who makes good looking food an artist. But in today’s world of farming, have these two categories collided? Where is the difference? Now in today’s world with a population that’s exponentially growing, farmers are being forced to use all kinds of unnatural additives and preservatives too create food and keep it fresh.  And with organic produce being so expensive these days, I don’t blame society for not following as closely as they should. With this being so, Fukuoka Masanobu, philosopher of nature faming is rolling over in his grave as we speak.

Fukuoka was a strong believer in traditions.  Every culture has its traditional dishes. But it seems that all people care about today is how well you can transform those traditions into something new and hip. Lets take Iron Chef America for example. This show was created for foodies. Once a Japanese show, the Food Network decided to create their own version. This show essentially, is a competition to see which chef can create their traditional dishes, with the best twist, or something added. For the average foodie, this is a dream come true. You get to see how the food is made and what it probably tastes like.  Fukuoka would hate this show. You have French chefs trying to mix Korean into their meals. You have Italian chefs trying to mix Indian into their meals. It’s not a competition to see who can make the best food, but rather who can the make most interesting and good tasting combination.

I believe that its sad that in today’s society and culture, a traditional dish is boring. It shouldn’t be about where the dish could go, but rather where the dish is from.

In Search of Pizza

16 Sep

Pizza isn’t really that difficult to find.  I mean, there are chains of stores built just to serve us, the customers, an instant box of pizza topped with a bunch of toppings of our choice.  However, my sister and I, already too familiar with the taste of America fast food pizza, sought to find a more prestigious, special pizza,  to eat not only for the sole purpose of filling our stomachs, also to educate our taste buds as to what is closer to the “root” of pizza.

So we found a nice, but not too fancy Italian restaurant in the the neighboring city, and in retrospect, made the mistake of ordering to-go.  The pizza took quite a bit of time to prepare, perhaps nearly half and hour or so, and the time spent creating the food in the traditional fashion was part of the prestige that we absorbed when eating it.  Everything was prepared on a more personal level, rather than by machines, from the rolling and spinning of the dough to the preparation of fresh toppings.  Our failure was to not dine on the retaurant itself and miss the finality of the experience.

The taste of the pizza was unlike any other we’d eaten before, and what we were being fed was not just tomato sauce on top of a flattened piece of bread, but Italian culture imported onto our kitchen table.  This desire for taste over the core function of food (to provide us with energy and nutrients) is a foodie’s mission, and creates a venue through which ideas and values are traded and merged, not explicitly, but as complementary side dish.

Fukuoka and the Foodie Dilemma

16 Sep

Fukuoka, a scientist by education, came to the realization that the application of science to nature, and more specifically agriculture was not correct. Through his enlightenment he developed the idea of “do-nothing” farming. He reasoned that if plants and vegetables had grown naturally without any intervention for centuries, what was the need now to add fertilizer and till the soil to help the plants to grow? Fukuoka would not approve of the modern day foodie.

Today a foodie is someone who has a keen taste for food and loves to critique and try different combinations and flavors of food. Fukuoka would deem this behavior as unnatural and would not endorse it. Foodies were important in the Meiji era because they were the ones who really pushed for the meat, and specifically beef eating craze in Japan. Up until this time Japan had essentially been practicing isolationism and rejected Western ideas. The fashion of eating meet was purely a Western concept and thus Fukuoka would deem incorporating meat into the Japanese diet as being unnatural. It can also be argued that the foodies of the Meiji period are a large reason why Japan opened its doors to the Western world.

Although Fukuoka was correct in his analysis that nature is able to take care of its plants on its own, human intervention, and more importantly human invention in the kitchen pushed the limits of Japan in the Meiji era and opened their country up to the world. Today, the foodie culture is pushing our cuisine to new limits and is an integral part of our evolution as a human race.

Is Snow White the Only One Eating Poisoned Apples?

16 Sep

So what exactly is a foodie? A foodie is defined as an individual who keeps up with the latest trends in food. Sometimes these foodies get a bit carried away and try to impose their passion on other people, like the man in “The Beefeater” who claims that those who do not eat beef are barbaric. Although these individuals insist that they know the best things to eat, Masanobu Fukuoka begs to differ.

Many people will pay anything to eat fresh produce out of season. According to Fukuoka, this obsession drives food producers to make things like fruits and vegetables, which are supposed to be gifts from Mother Nature, as artificial as possible. They do this because they know how much profit they can earn by selling as little as one crate of apples. If merchants were to sell the actual amount of successfully grown fruit, their revenue would be so little that they would barely be able to keep themselves from starving to death. Keeping this in mind, Fukuoka explains to readers how bruised apples “magically” turn picture perfect after the process of artificial coloration. If the majority of the apples in the crate look delectable, it is highly possible that a very large number will be sold, thus resulting in a greater profit for the merchant. Not only is this unfair to the consumer who expects to receive quality fruit for the amount that he is paying, but it is also extremely unjust to the farmer who works for hours in the hot sun for wages close to nothing.

Fuokoka would call the modern day foodie an idiot, to be quite frank. They may know where the best apple pies are served, but are they aware of what has to be done in order to make these apples look fresh? If they knew the amount of chemicals they were ingesting, they would probably never touch an apple pie again.

Asian Fusion

16 Sep

Fusion cuisine is an increasingly popular type of cookery and often sparks an interest for “foodies” especially in LA. The innovation to mix and match cuisines and give a twist to traditional meals mostly appeals to these so called “foodies” or food experts. As an Asian, born and breed in Asia, Asian fusion does not appeal to me or Fukuoka as the mix of taste loses the traditional and nature taste of how dishes are supposed to be like.

For example the Asian fusion dish, cream cheese wonton. The idea is to wrap wonton skins with cream cheese filling then deep frying it. Although you can put a variety of stuffing into wontons, putting in cream cheese which is a western ingredient messes up the simple taste of wontons. Instead of a light dish usually filled with vegetables, you get a heavy pungent and sticky dish. The nature of wontons is lost when the filling is substituted by a very western ingredient. Instead of being healthy, this cream cheese wonton is very oily and fattening.

Fukuoka would not be like this dish unlike “foodies” since this dish is too contemporary and untraditional. Fukuoka would have probably liked the traditional approach to wontons as it is simple and made with lots of vegetables and little meat. A “foodie” will have the complete opposite approach and will most likely want to explore the different fillings that wontons can have.  Fukuoka has a completely different attitude of food which includes being one with nature than a “foodie” who puts emphasis on innovation which leads to perhaps a rather pricey dinner bill.


Onward, Toward Complexity!

15 Sep

Fukuoka would rather kill himself than live in our contemporary society. Fukuoka’s life revolved around the belief that humanity is one with the universe, and one with nature. He believed that we weren’t an exception to life on Earth, like many individuals would have you believe. He desired that we eat, much like every other living being on this planet, a very natural, modest diet, which comes from the Earth itself. More specifically, he said eating a meal is to connect “food with souls.”

His beliefs were drastically different from what a modern day “foodie” follows. Contemporary foodies pamper themselves with extraordinary complexity. Thousands of different flavors and textures flow with every bite. If one were to dine out in Los Angeles today, one would have a near impossible time finding a meal suitable for Fukuoka. Society has evolved into believing that complication is superior, and the culinary arts are no exception. Fukuoka’s affinity for simple, basic, bare-minimum food is an idea of the past.

He preached the advantages of eating food purely out of necessity, rather than out of enjoyment. He only ate foods that were available to him based on his location, and he ate solely what grew on his land. The disgust that Fukuoka holds for “foodies” would make his life in a contemporary urban society nearly unlivable. Perhaps he could survive if he only ate what he grew on his land, but if he tried to live where we live, he wouldn’t be able to make it.

The Sushi of Yesterday and Today

15 Sep

In the ever-changing world of today, people go in and out of trends constantly. One such trend that a growing number of individuals are following these days is becoming a “foodie”, or a self-declared food critic and expert. In the words of Masanobu Fukuoka, modern society encourages people to “eat with their minds, not with their bodies” (The One-Straw Revolution, 137). As a farmer and philosopher, Fukuoka believed in a spiritual connection between man and nature, emphasizing the importance of eating food in its natural state by listening to ones bodily needs rather than manipulating food to conform to societal standards.

One food trend that exemplifies the “foodies” of today is the Americanization of sushi. Traditionally, sushi is prepared with simple ingredients consisting of rice, seaweed, and a piece of seafood, such as raw fish. Due to its simplistic ingredients, traditional sushi usually bears a pure, delicate taste. Recently, “foodies” in America began turning their attention to sushi, but not in its traditional form. Many restaurants now serve Americanized sushi bestowed with extravagant names to attract new customers, such as Dragon Roll, Tiger Roll, and Volcano Roll. The emergence of these modern types of sushi prevents many people from understanding and appreciating sushi in its natural form. Unlike its predecessors, these new forms of sushi are topped with various sauces and decorated with heaps of colorful ingredients to convey a sense of fanciness, therefore resulting in bold flavors. Consequently, “foodies” today claim to be absolute fans of sushi despite the fact that they never even tasted raw fish before.

To Fukuoka, this is a tragedy. Being blinded by modern society’s insatiable hunger for innovative, artful dining, many people today fail to appreciate the simple, nutritious nature of traditional sushi served with seafood in its most natural state.

Return and Repeat

15 Sep

Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer, philosopher, and writer, pioneered his method of “nature farming,” in which he seeks to let crops grow with as little interference from humans as possible.  However, though farmers should neither plow nor till the fields, they must do the necessary work to keep this method practical.  Fukuoka does not encourage complete abandonment of the fields, but instead focuses on teaching people the advantages of “going back to nature.”

In today’s world, it is next to impossible to find any food or ingredients grown truly naturally.  Today’s “foodies” constantly explore new flavors and create recipes, while neglecting the roots from which these dishes came into being.  For example, the acai berry hype started when some people discovered the “miracle fruit” in the wild.  Yet now, because of the popularity of the fruit, it is being so overly produced that the nutritional benefits have been depleted.  Following this, some scientist will most likely try to find a method of preserving the nutrients, even when the best method would have been to have not put them through machines to begin with.  Through their efforts to transform food into its best form, “foodies” are in fact encouraging the actions that Fukuoka strives to change.

With his belief that the fundamentals of nature have never changed, Fukuoka would criticize today’s “foodies” as aficionados obsessed with chasing the new. Those who read the blogs and comments of self-proclaimed “foodies” discover that it is not just about the ingredients anymore; there is the atmosphere of the restaurant, the customer service provided by the staff, and the difficulty of making those over-priced, extravagantly decorated dishes.  The food itself has become a side topic.

An Extravagant Affair

15 Sep

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.