Exoticism in “The Gourmet Club”

In the book, “The Gourmet Club” by Junichiō Tanizaki Food and exoticism has strong connection between those two concepts. In the story, the author describes, “He had often experienced the dubious Chinese fare to be found in restaurants all over Tokyo and Yokohama; but that was usually based on poor ingredients cooked in a semi-Japanese style. According to people who had traveled there, the food one was served in China was of a different order altogether, and he’d long suspected that such authentic Chinese food was precisely the ideal cuisine the members of the Gourmet Club were dreaming of. “ (The Gourmet Club 112) Exoticism in this story is Japanese people’s longing for Chinese food. Unfortunately, the members of the Gourmet Club have eaten only Chinese food cooked in semi – Japanese style. These are not real food that members want to eat. The real great local cuisine is food that cooked by local people. Food are very sensitive things so if you add some foreign elements into local cuisine, these are not original cuisine. That’s why count G. looked for real Chinese food with no Japanese element and he was so happy when he found real Chinese food cooked by real Chinese chef. We can see the same situation here in United States. Nowadays, Japanese food has been very popular in all over the world. In Westwood, there is a famous restaurant, called “Yamato”. Many of my American friends in UCLA love to go there and eat Sushi and other Japanese cuisine. However, my Japanese friends in UCLA, they don’t want to go that restaurant. That’s because the food that they are selling are not “real Japanese food.”   These foods are very so called “Americanized”. For example, Sushi is so different from original one. They put some spicy sauce and avocado onto the Sushi. For Japanese, these are not sushi anymore. But, they still call it sushi. Also, there is a Yoshinoya in South campus of UCLA. Yoshinoya is very famous beef bowl chain store in Japan. One time, I ordered Miso-soup in Yoshinoya, but it taste so much different compare to original one. Actually, it was really bad taste for Japanese. As I mentioned before, if you add some foreign element to food, that is not original food anymore. One element can change whole concept of the food. That’s why in the story, count G. was looking for real Chinese food with no Japanese element. In other words, strong “Exoticism” against food drives him to look for real Chinese food.

In conclusion, Exoticism can be seen in a lot of fields such as art and design. But, probably most common exoticism in our life is food because we can’t live without food. One small element would change the whole concept of the food. Sushi is the great example of this. The author describes this concept by using Chinese cuisine in the story.



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