Exoticism in Food

  In The Gourmet Club a group of men set their lives to eating the best food, spending their time in the comforts of Count G’s home enjoying the pleasures they get from eating. However, their passion for food soon dies when they run out of foods to eat or more precisely when they feel they have tried every food they could in Japan. Eventually leading them on a chase for food that is new, and will give them that overwhelming taste, and richness they were looking for.  In which food becomes a chase of the inaccessible, therefore dramatizing the idea of the exotic. For instance, in the next passage Count G. experiences the feelings of not being able to get the food he wants:


As all Tokyoites probably know, if you go two or three blocks down Imagagawakoji from Surugadai, you come to the No.1 Chinese Restaurant on the right side of the street. Stopping in front of it, the Count’s nostrils began to twitch. (He possessed a very keen nose and could generally judge the level of a restaurant’s cuisine by a sniff or two.) After a moment, though he started briskly off in the direction of Kudan, swinging his stick, a look of resignation on his face (Jun’ichiro 107).


In the passage food becomes a chase as the Count sets out to discover a new food that can give him a whole new experience he has been craving. However, even as the Count comes across a Chinese restaurant it still is not appealing to him because it is not the authentic taste that he is looking for. Making food inaccessible because of the distance that is created between the authentic Chinese food that can be found in China, and the one that he comes across in Japan. It sets out to show that the chase and inaccessibility of the food are what makes it exotic because it is not exactly about how the food tastes, but the experience of eating something that is hard to come by, that made the Count search further. In this next passage the chase and inaccessibility of food is once again made exotic when the Count is told to leave the building without getting to taste any of food:

I suppose it’s because I’m so keen on good cooking, but I’m forever dreaming about it; and coming here tonight is just like a waking dream to me…Certainly you know by now how serious I am. So, couldn’t you go just one step further and try recommending me to your president one more time? If he still absolutely refuses then, even if I can’t sit at the table and eat, mightn’t it be possible for me to hide in the shadows somewhere and at least see what the meal’s like. (Jun’ichiro 126).

The passage welcomes the chase and inaccessibility to another level of exoticism in which there is a barrier between the Count and the food he so desperately wants to taste. Whereas earlier the barrier was the distance this time it is the inaccessibility to the forbidden, that encompasses the idea of food representing the exotic. The forbidden being the object that drives the Count to beg for entrance, to continue his chase of the unusual.  Which in turn uses food to dramatize the idea of exoticism through the inaccessibility and chase of reaching what is not the norm what is different from the usual as is seen in the Gourmet Club, when the Count tries hard to find the next best food, even if it means hiding in a closet. The idea behind food representing exoticism is about trying something new that is not easily accessible to the eater, and takes a great deal to get because it is not what others would see as appropriate or good.


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