The Gourmet Club: Exoticism

Molly Munroe

Professor McKnight

Japanese 70, Dis 1D

Due: 11/4/2013

                                                                                                The Gourmet Club

The Gourmet Club by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro is a story of five men and their experiences with food and preparations that are unlike anything people have heard of or would actually want to try. In this story Jun’ichiro relates many of the dishes as being somewhat magical in taste and smell and that a person has to use his whole body as a tongue to understand each dish. This story gives a tale of food and men that are exotic in their own rights and portrays exoticism with many different ways a dish can be prepared. The men of this group for example, “Three of them were diabetics, and almost all the club members suffered from gastric dilatation. Some had come close to dying from appendicitis…they were so devoted, none of them was worried about illness.” (100) These men were devoted to food and their entire lives were devoted to looking for the best food out there. While these men are exotic themselves what they are looking for is something they have never tried. All of them were driven by their gluttony, and that is how the reader sees Count G while walking around Japan looking for something he has never tasted before.  As the story unfolds the reader follows Count G, a man of much experience in the consumption of fine Japanese food, but always looking for something to surprise him. Count G was the idlest member of their club and could not wait for the next great meal so he sought out to find it. When he is on a walk he comes across another Gourmet club, but one run by a Chinese man, he learns that food can be prepared in many different ways and that the taste and texture that comes from those dishes will always surprise the consumer; this is where the reader really sees and understands what it means to have exotic foods. When he goes back and relates this story to his friends he tells them he will throw a banquet and let them experience the new types of food that he will prepare. The names of the food and the food itself was very strange and made the men think and feel what the food was and almost had to imagine what each of the “Dishes” were suppose to be. The first course he gives to his friends is a type of sweet broth but until burping can they actually taste all the flavors. At this point he was seen as the best person in their group to show them new and exciting dishes and that’s what he did. This story is based on man and their consumption of food that cannot at points be explained because of how exotic the dishes are prepared and consumed. It’s a way for the writer to show how there’s more to food than just the taste of it, they have to wait, be patient, and think about what is happening to them while they are eating. In his ending paragraph he states, “ To all appearances, the members no longer merely “taste” or “eat” fine cuisine, but are “consumed” by it. And I for one believe that, in the not-too-distant future, this can only lead to two outcomes: either raving lunacy or death.” (139) What he is saying in his last statement is that what people put in their mouths is for eating and getting energy from food. But what these men are doing is eating and consuming something that could potentially kill a person. What a person puts in his or her mouth is important, they should know what is in it before consuming.

Works Cited

Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, “The Gourmet Club,” in The Gourmet Club: A sextet, trans. Anthony H Chambers and Paul McCarthy( Tokyo; London: Kodansha, 2001), 99-140. 

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