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…
…our grade A protagonist!
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…
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.
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.
So let’s get back to apron dude… and he’s decided to skip the apron entirely.
Oh, how I wish supermarket tomatoes weren’t so bland.
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…
Anyway, the kids enjoy some slightly fancier onigiri…
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.
Still, the rice balls were made by none other than Megumi.
Yeah, Megumi, you honestly gotta cook better so you can be a good wife. You want to be a good wife, don’t you?
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.
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…
Unfortunately, this sad sap is in charge of the club, and he’s about to lose the club, because Erina doesn’t like him.
If he wants to keep the club around, he’ll have to beat Meat Master in a Shokugeki.
Boobs for no reason.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
So this is like a slightly more refined chicken fried steak?
I’d eat it, but yeah, it wouldn’t win.
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.
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.