Shokugeki no Soma Ep. 6: Bowled over

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This is still a cooking show, but don’t worry. I’m sure you can find a doujinshi where the Meat Master truly wants to do it. In the meantime, however, we’re going to keep cooking. As a result, she’s really only challenging some poor sap to a Shokugeki, a.k.a. one of those food battles that this show kind of revolves. Obviously, however, this poor sap, whose face we can’t even see at the moment, won’t be the one doing the fighting. That job is reserved for…

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…our grade A protagonist!

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But we’ll get there in time. For now, we learn about sourcing your own ingredients, which is truly a big thing in fine dining. If you don’t care, just skip the next two paragraphs. With that out of the way, you could certainly buy bulk from a supplier, and that is a lot cheaper. But a lot of expensive places around here will actually go down to the farmer’s market in the morning to pick out exactly what they’re going to cook that night. For many restaurants, they literally don’t have a lot of the ingredients for your dinner until the day of your dinner. As a result, some of the fancier restaurants will often ask for your credit card number when you make a reservation. Why? Because if you wait too long to cancel, the restaurant will have already bought the ingredients. And if you’re a no show, well, what the hell is the restaurant going to do with those ingredients? They can’t save it for another day, because then the stuff is no longer fresh. In the fine dining world, the food margins are pretty razor-thin. You honestly make most of your money by pushing the alcohol. Wine has some ridiculous mark-ups. If you’re not really into $200 bottles of wine, it may feel as though the sommelier is just spewing utter bullshit from his mouth. But he or she has to, because it makes his restaurant money. Plus, some people enjoy it so…

Some restaurants will go even further. The French Laundry is in Yountville, a tiny town only known for, well, The French Laundry. And because the place is located in Napa Valley, there’s literally a farm across the street from the restaurant. So Thomas Keller and his chefs can literally pick the vegetables out of the ground, and not have to rely on the purveyors at the farmer’s market. Fine dining is really about an attention to detail. It may seem pretentious to outsiders, but that’s only because you don’t care. And that’s fine. We don’t all have to care about the same things, but at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. A fine dining chef will care about the freshness of the turnips that go on the plate — even if only a few slices of raw turnip even ends up on the plate. But every little detail matters, including where that turnip came from, how it was grown, etc. Naturally, being this detail-oriented is time-consuming, time is money, so on and so forth. So a nine course meal will end up costing hundreds of dollars per person…

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She technically isn’t wrong. Good ingredients help. Still, some of the best foods I’ve ever had come from hole-in-the-wall taquerias.

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I guess you could do it yourself. The more realistic approach, however, is to have these students establish relationships with artisans… but it’s anime, so whatever.

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So let’s get back to apron dude… and he’s decided to skip the apron entirely.

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Oh, how I wish supermarket tomatoes weren’t so bland.

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Same with supermarket strawberries. As a kid, I never really understood why people liked strawberries. The ones my parents got were always so tart. Of course, being able to grow produce out of season is a modern marvel in its own way, but a lot of people literally have never known what a proper tomato should taste like. But I’m sure technology and food science can eventually overcome this problem one day. I read a recent article about growing artificial meat. At the moment, it’s super expensive… and I’m sure they don’t quite have the flavor down just yet. But just imagine when they do. It would change everything. We would no longer have to raise animals — and in the process, consume a fuckton of resources — and slaughter them just to have meat. And if we can do this for meat, what if we could also grow the best strawberries year round in a lab? Some people will, of course, be squeamish over the idea of artificial meat. I don’t really get it personally…

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Anyway, the kids enjoy some slightly fancier onigiri…

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I have no real comments about onigiri. They’re okay, but I never grew up with them. As such, rice balls don’t hit any nostalgic notes for me.

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Still, the rice balls were made by none other than Megumi.

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Yeah, Megumi, you honestly gotta cook better so you can be a good wife. You want to be a good wife, don’t you?

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And now, it’s time for Soma to join a club, because we’re still in high school. And what high school anime would be complete without a club? Hell, that kissing anime managed to squeeze its characters into a club, but I’ll talk more on that at some later date.

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And naturally, of all the food clubs that Soma could’ve joined, he takes an interest in the one that specializes in rice bowls. Hey, I like rice bowls. I grew up eating rice. But c’mon, Soma should really be stepping out of his comfort zone. This club, however, is right in his wheel house. No one’s saying you can’t do amazing things with rice bowls. But imagine taking, say, a class on Mexican cuisine. No, I’m not talking just tacos and burritos. How about some deep and complex mole sauces? Imagine one of those in a rice bowl. Seriously, you can learn about flavor profiles from different cultures, and still cook Japanese food at the end of the day. But fine, whatever, rice bowl club it is…

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Unfortunately, this sad sap is in charge of the club, and he’s about to lose the club, because Erina doesn’t like him.

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If he wants to keep the club around, he’ll have to beat Meat Master in a Shokugeki.

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Boobs for no reason.

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But you need to look beyond the boobs and admire the character for her talents! Just try to overlook her short skirt and how she wears pointless shit on her legs just to draw your attention to her thighs.

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So of course, the hero steps up to the plate — get it?! a food plate?!!! — and volunteers to battle the Meat Master. If he loses, he’ll have to quit the school. But if he wins, she’ll have to… join their club…? Wow, weak. But of course, it’s a silly anime, so we’re all going to be tomodachis!!!

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Luckily for Soma, the theme is, well, rice bowls. The group begins to brainstorm how they’re going to beat the Meat Master. Unfortunately, the ingredient has to be meat, so scallops are out of the picture. I still consider seafood a protein, but I guess when people say meat, it truly has to be from some land-dweller. It’s just too bad, ’cause some fish are pretty meaty.

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Beating the Meat Master will be tough, because she can apparently get the best quality beef. Y’know, the type that will melt in your mouth and everything. But you can see how she’s portrayed compared to Soma’s friends at the start of the episode. Those guys had a quaint, little farm and this cute, little chicken pen, blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Meat Master gets her meat from some clinical-looking place that looks like it has no soul whatsoever. Oh, the many tricks narratives will play to shape the audience’s perceptions of a character.

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So this is like a slightly more refined chicken fried steak?

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I’d eat it, but yeah, it wouldn’t win.

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Eventually, Megumi and the sad sap are blown away by Soma’s latest idea: something called a Chaliapin steak. It’s apparently super tender from the onions. But you know what this reminds me of? When you make galbi, you marinate the short ribs in a lot of stuff, and one of those stuff is literally grated onions. The grated onions will, as the anime suggests, tenderize the short rib (along with the grated pear), which is usually a pretty tough cut of meat if you don’t braise for a long time. But if you’ve ever had galbi, you know that shit ain’t tough. So while I’ve never specifically heard of Chaliapin steak, it doesn’t really surprise me or anything.

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Elsewhere, Meat Master tells Erina that she plans on using the best of wagyu. Now, I love a good steak, but when you have top notch wagyu, you really don’t have to do much to it… and since we literally just saw how she gets her meat, it sure as hell doesn’t feel like she’s putting much effort into this. Maybe that’s why she’s going to lose… but that’s it for this week! Tune in next week for more useless food facts from Moe Sucks. ‘Cause that’s definitely what you came here for.


12 Replies to “Shokugeki no Soma Ep. 6: Bowled over”

  1. “Tune in next week for more useless food facts from Moe Sucks. ‘Cause that’s definitely what you came here for.”

    Not to say I don’t enjoy reading your other stuff, but these insights add some much needed flavour to the dismissal of a mediocre show.

  2. I’m going to say that MEAT GIRL is definitely one of the better character designs of the show… that has its ranks filled with nothing but meh-designed other goobers. That being said, there’s nothing particularly interesting and new anyway. MEAT GIRL has huge tits because MEAT (HA-HA!) and ‘Murica Bra because that means GAIKOKU the last dozen times I’ve seen it. So really, it’s more interesting than every other character, but it’s still easy and cheap?

    MEAT GIRL is basically STRING-TIT GIRL from DanMachi; pretty much poster girls that aren’t really anything other than libido-ensaring eye-candy pairs of tits in their respective un-remarkable shows.

    At least the animators know how to kinda draw food. Y’know, seeing how this is anime and all.

    1. Is she better designed than the other characters? They’re in a school. She has a better design if you want to jerk it, but I’m not seeing much beyond that.

    2. Trust me, meat girl ain’t even special. The LOL meat gag is just going to be mirrored in every other future enemy that Soma goes against in some different from.

      Wanna make a shokugeki no enemy?
      1. Find an aspect of cooking.
      2. Make a character that revolves around said aspect
      4. Congratulations you can create an entire cast of “stepping stones” to polish our wholesome, totally cool boy Soma.

      Know who’s more interesting? A certain pair of brothers, least they got some human interaction going on and they don’t just half ass everything else because they were raised like so.

  3. Well, this anime is very popular but I doubt its cuz its an interesting show.
    The fanservice is even more intense in the anime than in the manga.
    Also giving highschool students more authority than adults just makes this show even more ridiculous.
    This and the sound of the boobs of the meat girl.

  4. I’m surprised you didn’t comment on how apparently the school’s policy on Shokugekis says you gotta buy your ingredients by yourself, giving an immense unfair advantage to rich assholes like the Meat girl who have an entire industry behind. Any reasonably fair cook-off would require the competitors having the same standard ingredients at their disposal. Meritocracy!

    “But if you’ve ever had galbi, you know that shit ain’t tough. So while I’ve never specifically heard of Chaliapin steak, it doesn’t really surprise me or anything.”

    Well, this is a staple of every sports anime ever – showing relatively simple techniques in a sensationalistic light as the MC learns about them. And this is clearly a sports anime in soul, besides the fanservice. It’s not necessarily bad imho, it’s very cliché but it serves a sort of educational purpose in its own way, at least if the anime is reasonably well-researched.

    1. I’m surprised you didn’t comment on how apparently the school’s policy on Shokugekis says you gotta buy your ingredients by yourself

      I missed it.

      And maybe the judges will award more points to someone who makes something out of nothing. Shrug.

      It’s not necessarily bad imho,

      I didn’t say it was bad. I simply said it didn’t surprise me.

  5. “And if we can do this for meat, what if we could also grow the best strawberries year round in a lab?”

    The discrepancy between food that has been grown in and out of season is really astonishing. I still remember the taste of cucumber and plums that I grew up with in china. It was a relatively small village (50000 people), so most of the produce were from local farmers. When I moved to Germany and all the food came from the super market, it was a really… disappointing experience.
    Now let’s talk about science: In a way we are already growing our strawberries in labs all year round. The greenhouses where vegetables and fruits are raised out of season are basically that. Environmental conditions like carbon dioxide level, lumination, temperature, air and soil moisture are all pretty much being artificially controlled. I am not an expert on plant physiology, but to optimize (the taste) on the already existing greenhouses on a large scale would require the use of genetic engineering. I am not sure how big an issue that is in the US, but at least in Germany the so called gen-food is heavily critizised and vilified.
    The artificial growing of meat works through cell cultures (as far as my knowledge goes), which side-steps the stigma of genetic engineering. Doing the same for plants or part of plants is trickier because plants depend so much on sunlight. You also mentioned the heavy cost on ressources and the moral dimension on raising animals for slaugther, which both do not apply to the same degree to plants. I mean, most people don’t feel bothered that plants get their reproductional organs (fruits) removed on a daily basis or feel moral dilemmas welling up when they are killed, although they are in biological sense just as much alive as a cow or cat.
    So in summary I think that growing tasty strawberries in petri dishes will take much longer in comparison to meat due to cheaper scientific alternatives, immediate social pressures (animal activists) and higher technical difficulties.

    “It’s just too bad, ’cause some fish are pretty meaty.”

    Like a tuna steak.

    1. The greenhouses where vegetables and fruits are raised out of season are basically that.

      I’m referring to vegetables and fruits that can taste “in-season” all year round.

      1. I get your point. You want fruit to taste “in-season” all year, but that also implies that the plants have to be cultivated out-of-season. That’s why I mentioned greenhouses and all the stuff that followed in the first place. Lab-cultivation for plants already exists to a certain degree.

        1. This is getting into semantics. And lab-grown meat also already exists to a certain degree. I’m talking about getting to a point where they are both commercially viable. It’s plainly obvious that once they do, the public will finally throw a fit, because they already do with GMOs.

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