Exoticism in The Gourmet Club

The Gourmet Club is composed of a group of five aristocratic gluttons whose primary motive in life is to eat only the most exotic of fine foods. The story follows the Count, who on his search for a more decadent and unusual cuisine, is lured by the enticing smells coming from Chechiang Hall, and upon entrance, his whole experience can be described as very ethereal.

The Gourmet Club is certainly perplexing; it is a piece that is certain to invoke a wide array of feelings. Through Tanizaki’s diction use, food is barraging us with feelings of hunger, feelings of disgust and dismay, and ultimately through the use of food Tanizaki places us in a universe that is simply – for lack of a better word – weird. Which in its true essence is what exoticism sets out to do.

In the Gourmet Club, food is definitely described to entice the reader. “Then all at once the broth that had just been swallowed came surging back into the oral cavity in the form of a belch. And wondrously, the taste of chicken gruel and fish fins accompanied the belch.” (page 130) In this passage, the experience of chicken gruel and sharks’ fins is described as far as not only its consumption but as far as the belch that comes along with it. Tanizaki used such words as “surging”, “belch”, and I’m sure the “gruel” dish were all used for their cacophonic nature. The use of the word “oral cavity” also magnifies a grotesque feeling that emanates throughout the entire passage. Describing a food by its belch is very unorthodox, and as seen from this excerpt Tanizaki’s style of writing is very unique and carries a sense of mystery that is just bound to entice reactions from its reader.

“Naturally his appetite was aroused .The greedy saliva that urged him to gormandize welled up endlessly from behind his back teeth, filling his entire mouth…”(page 134) This is another account of Tanizaki’s use of imagery that struck very well; his diction use is very intricate and precise enough to make it disturbingly clear the animosity that comes when humans are teased and denied their food. Tanizaki’s use of the words “greedy saliva”, “gormandize”, and “welled” work very harmoniously to again create an atmosphere of complete and utter discomfort. The connotations of those words often imply images of gluttony, and of terrible and ugly things.

Tanizaki’s diction use in this excerpt is very crucial to describing food in a very exotic and strange way. Food in The Gourmet Club is the very driving force behind the eccentric nature of this story. Every mention of food within The Gourmet Club never carried a simple description, but rather was accompanied with a very lengthy passage that assimilated the five senses. Ultimately, food, through Tanizaki’s rich diction choice, establishes The Gourmet Club as truly strange, surreal, and exotic in its own way.

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