By Leroy Douresseaux
September 10, 2009 - 14:28
|Oishinbo a la Carte: Vegetables cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T” for “Teen”
In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the publishers of the newspaper, Tõzai News, have commissioned the creation of the “Ultimate Menu,” a model meal embodying the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine. Young food writer, Yamaoka Shirõ is known for being cynical and often lazy, but he also has a refined palate and an encyclopedic knowledge of food. He and partner (and eventual wife), Kurita Yũko, get the job of writing the menu.
Yamaoka’s father is Kaibara Yũzan, a prominent artist with an uncanny sense of taste and a ferocious temper. Kaibara is known for his voluminous knowledge of the art, preparation, presentation, and spirit of Japanese cuisine. Kaibara and his son Yamaoka are bitter enemies, and Tõzai News’ rival, the Teito Times, has commissioned Kaibara to head the “Supreme Menu,” a project to rival the “Ultimate Menu.”
Oishinbo a la Carte: Vegetables (Vol. 5) is all about the veggies – from asparagus and eggplant to new potatoes and carrots. As the volume begins, the Tõzai News and the Teito Times are in the midst of an epic battle between the News’ Ultimate Menu and the Times’ Supreme Menu. That also means a fierce duel between father and son turned bitter enemies, Kaibara and Yamaoka, but when the son falters, is dad up to something to help the boy out? As usual, Yamaoka and Kurita also use their food and people skills to help out friends and friends-of-friends in distress, including an auto executive, a boy who hates eggplants, and a little girl who hates her veggies.
THE LOWDOWN: For American readers, Oishinbo is a series about a group of people in which food plays a big part in their lives, from newspapermen to restaurateurs and from farmers to people who maintain gardens in their yards. In Japan, the Oishinbo manga series is considered culturally significant because of the journey it takes through the world of Japanese cooking and food culture. Oishinbo also examines many aspects of the wider Japanese culture.
In this volume, which focuses on vegetables, writer Tetsu Kariya and artist Akira Hanasaki create charming stories about vegetables that will make the reader crave asparagus and carrot juice the way many people crave ice cream. Once again Oishinbo proves to be the manga series that absolutely must be on every reading menu.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Foodies and readers looking for exceptional comic book series will find that in Oishinbo.