Time for Soma to deliver the goods.
— That’s a pretty sorry-looking sign. Anyway, we get some backstory on the blond kid from Italy. Nothing too interesting, though.
He needs a rival, he needs something to push him over the edge, blah blah blah. So he’s here, picking fights with Soma because main characters need foils in their lives.
— Sure, you should always look and see what your competitors are doing, but it turns out Soma and Megumi haven’t even gotten all the ingredients for their dish. And they just wasted valuable time watching the judge rave over the blond kid’s food. But it’s okay, because the judge lady just happened to be munching on the right snack for the occasion. Pretty fortuitous, isn’t it?
— Likewise, Megumi just happens to have a ton of experiencing foraging in mountains, so she’ll be sure to find the exact ingredients that Soma needs. Such luck.
— And even though Soma and Megumi return with just fifteen minutes left on the clock, it’s fine. Soma isn’t going to make anything complicated anyway. You’ll see. And he’s all like “I can’t keep my customers waiting.” Sure, but in restaurants, you also spend hours prepping before the doors actually open. Here, we go from scratch to a great meal in just those fifteen minutes. It’s not really the same thing.
— In the end, this is what he ends up making. It’s deep-fried fish with the tea snacks for breading. And some vegetables.
— So I’m not sure exactly what fish Soma used. The subs merely say river fish. Maybe in Japanese, they specify what fish it was, but I wouldn’t know. So there’s one ingredient down.
— Likewise, I have no clue what the tea snacks taste like. Never had’em. All that I get from the show, however, is that they have an assertive taste. That’s pretty vague. You can be assertive in a lot of different directions. Plus, fish is generally pretty delicate in flavor, and assertiveness in the breading might just detract from that. But who knows? Maybe the fish Soma used can stand up to the tea snacks. All I can do is give the show the benefit of the doubt.
Finally, he pretty much made a Japanese mayonnaise. But that’s not exactly a bad thing. An aioli sounds all foreign and fancy, but it, too, is just an emulsion of egg and oil. You just throw in garlic. And olive oil tastes better than vegetable oil. Here, we don’t have garlic. We have kinome, which is an herb that (I believe) comes from the same plant that Szechuan peppercorns come from. So it’s Japanese mayonnaise or aioli.
Finally, there are some vegetables.
— Of course, the lady is blown away by the dish. It just so happens that she’s sick of eating grilled fish all day, so she’s more than pleased to have the crunchiness of fish and
chips veggies. Again, Soma lucks out in that the judge’s mood was in the right place. Nevertheless…
— Who should win? Not surprisingly, the anime goes the blue-balls route, and as such, the lady is unable to decide on a winner. As a viewer, we can’t taste any of the food so we can’t really judge the competition either. But if I really had to lean one way or another, I would say…
…that the blond kid’s dish looks more composed (inedible garnish aside).
On the other hand, Soma’s dish has some whole vegetables sitting next to some chunks of deep-fried fish… and dipping sauce. It just doesn’t feel put together. It also strikes me more as an appetizer than a dish… So with the inability to actually taste the dishes myself, I’d give the win to our rival. But we can’t have the shounen hero actually lose. Main characters nowadays rarely ever start from the bottom or even have to pick themselves up from a bad loss. It’s too bad, really. Sometimes, the journey from the bottom is what makes these stories so special, but I suppose specials aren’t on the menu tonight.
— After that, we get a bunch of scenes that I just plain don’t care about. I’m only here for the cooking.
— It turns out that there’s no rest for the weary: those who haven’t been expelled must now each cook 50 steak set meals for a bunch of burly, hungry athletes and bodybuilders.
— But we don’t actually get to see any of the cooking itself, so I’m just going to move on.
— Naturally, Soma finishes first. After all, he’s actually had professional experience in a kitchen before. So his reward is that he gets to bump into Erina and stare at her massive cleavage.
— She acts tsuntsun and water is still wet. This is some pretty boring stuff.
— Finally, Soma gets into the bath, and who should happen to be there? That famous chef who’s in charge of… a bunch of resort restaurants. Snickers all around.
— I hate people like this. Everyone’s human. No one’s a god. No one deserves your respect until they actually earn it from you.
— Yes, the girls also get into the bath, but we’re all anime fans. As such, we’ve seen more than our fair share of that sort of thing. It wouldn’t hurt to skip it this time!
— Our friends hang out and have fun. Snore.
— Megumi gets her groove back. Snore.
— The next day, she and Soma face a new challenge. They must replicate another judge’s vegetable terrine recipe. I gotta say I’ve never been terribly excited about terrines.
Just nothing really appetizing about squeezing food into a rectangular form. To make it even worse, it’s vegetarian! C’mon! I ain’t no rabbit!
— This time, everyone must work by themselves. Megumi freaks out for a second, but she realizes she must stand on her own two feet. She can’t let Soma carry her through life! Even if they get married, she should be able to assert herself! C-character development? Someone besides the main character stepping up to the plate? So we get to see her angrily stare at some veggies. Assertiveness!
— Unfortunately for the girl, she was too slow, so all the good cauliflower are gone…
— No fanfare this time for Soma’s dish. After all, he’s just duplicating what someone else has done. He’s not adding some twist to some homey dish, so we won’t even bother getting into what the vegetable terrine tastes like.
— When it’s finally Megumi’s turn to be judged, she fails. Why? Because she had used vinegar. You know how you keep vegetables from oxidizing? People usually tell you to stick them in lemon juice. So boiling cauliflower in vinegar works the same way here. But ah, there isn’t vinegar in the original recipe, and how dare the girl deviate!! Therefore, she fails!
The whole thing is hilarious to me, because any professional cook should know that you have to improvise on the spot. Sure, things can go perfectly, and you can produce that perfect dish… but sometimes, an ingredient goes bad, and you just have to make do. So any real chef would be impressed by Megumi’s ingenuity. But no, not this jackass chef over here, because we need a villain!
And it’s also funny how the emphasis at the start was how Megumi had to stand up for herself, but now it’s Soma’s turn to argue in her favor. He rightly points out that the judge had supplied them with less-than-fresh ingredients. The judge admits he did so in order to fail more kids. But whatever. Why couldn’t Megumi have made this argument herself? Why couldn’t the story just allow her to stand up for herself even here?
Because this all leads to a shokugeki. In order to prevent Megumi from being expelled, our hero directly challenges the asshole judge. But so much for Megumi standing up for herself.
She gets to show one tiny bit of resourcefulness, but it’s quickly back to Soma coming to the damsel’s distress. At the end of the day, we’re sorely reminded that cute girls like Megumi can’t really do anything by themselves unless they’re willing to be a mean bitch (see: Erina). Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll cover the last two weeks of Fate Something or Other tomorrow morning before LCS. It will prepare me for the disappointment from CLG’s eventual loss to TSM.