Category Archives: The Gourmet Club

Chinese Cultural Forms in The Gourmet Club: Creating Curiosity and Pleasure From Unfamiliarity

By integrating Chinese cultural forms in the description of the exotic feeling that the Chinese cuisine gives in the story, Tanizaki Junichirō seemingly make the image of Chinese cultural images more vivid, but indeed not explaining the Chinese cultural images. This way, the sense of exoticism is amplified, and the hazy aesthetics of exoticism is created.

When Count G searches for the source of the good smell he detected on the street, “a whiff of shao-hsing rice wine reached his nostrils”. By specifically calling out shao-hsing rice wine instead of just some kind of Chinese rice wine, Tanizaki Junichiro creates the beauty of exoticism: it makes readers imagine how the wine smells like, and what makes it so interesting to Count G. Without further describing or introducing shao-hsing rice wine, a mysterious aesthetics is created. The shao-hsing rice wine is later mentioned again when Count G. was exploring inside of the CheChiang Hall, when he saw “one of the diners stood up and raised a cup of shao-hsing rice wine”. The repeated mention of shao-hsing rice wine intensifies its existence, drawing attention to it. However, Junichiro did not spend any words explaining the true identity of this mysterious supposedly delicious wine, and therefore creating a mysteriousness.

Similar methods are found throughout the passage. “Scenic beauty on the banks of Western Lake, framed in the poetry of Po Lo-t’ien and Su Tung-p’o” references to classical Chinese poets by their names without further explaining who they are or what their master works are. “Pork belly cooked in soy a la Tung-p’o” excites readers’ imagination on what “a la Tung-p’o” could possibly be, as it seems to be some kind of Chinese cooking sauce. “Tea from cups made in Ching-te-chen” reminds readers of some distinct mysterious Chinese town that makes fine china cups without visually giving readers an image to think about. All these mentions of classical Chinese cultural forms all together create a veil between readers and the Chinese culture, and therefore amplifying the sense of exoticism, creating a beauty of unfamiliarity .

Different from all other mentions of Chinese cultural forms, the mention of “Bok Choi” takes the aesthetics to another level. At first, the cabbages are falsely described as a woman’s fingers, then after erotic description of A.’s experience, the “fingers” are revealed to be Chinese cabbages. It’s not until even later that the traditional Chinese name for Chinese cabbage, “Bok Choi” is used to substitute the mere vocabulary of “Chinese cabbage”. By revealing the identity of Bok Choi gradually, the erotic pleasure of A. is intensified bit by bit, and by the time that the word “Bok Choi” is used, a vivid, eerie yet fantastic image of a normal Chinese cabbage has been established. By giving Bok Choi specifically a vivid image, Tanizaki Junichirō seemingly gives readers an insight of Chinese culture. However, since the actual taste of Bok Choi is still not described in the passage, the pleasure and aesthetics of exoticism is still achieved.

By integrating Chinese cultural forms in the story, Tanizaki Junichirō vaguely gives out Chinese culture images without further explanation.  This creates a beauty of unfamiliarity and exoticism, and thus evokes readers’ excitement and erotic pleasure resulted from the sense of unfamiliarity and exoticism.

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Superficiality and Exoticism in The Gourmet Club

Tanizaki Junichiro’s The Gourmet Club follows the journey of Count G, the leader of a group of Japanese men whose main aspiration in life is to experience culinary pleasures, as he attempts to discover the next experience that will titillate their palettes. In a scene where Count G is taken into a room used for smoking opium, Tanizaki’s use of contrasting diction reveals an awareness of the superficiality of this culinary experience, providing a subtle criticism of culinary exoticism.

The language that the Count uses to describe the hall upon his initial encounter with has positive connotations, indicating how enticing he finds the idea of the cuisine promised by the hall. Count G envisions it as “a place where a purely Chinese style of life prevailed,” a description which points towards how he essentializes what “Chinese” life is (Tanizaki 112). The cuisine promised by the hall tempts Count G because it promises authenticity—something “purely Chinese.” Tanizaki’s word choice here indicates the Count’s positive impression of the hall. It is “flooded with light” (113), the interior furnishings shine “brightly” (114). By choosing these descriptions, Tanizaki indicates that the hall is a place that the Count regards highly. Thus what Count G finds in the hall’s resplendence is this “Chinese style of life,” the promise of something authentically “Chinese” and exotic which will sate his weary palette.

In contrast to the diction used to describe the restaurant initially, there is a shift in Tanizaki’s word choice when Count G enters the room used for smoking opium, with the negative connotation of the language serving to indicate the superficiality of Count G’s desire for Chinese cuisine. In direct opposition with the light-filled first impression of the hall, this room has a “shadowy interior,” a deliberate comparison which goes to show how there is a shift in understanding on a narrative level (127). To underline this general feeling of unease and negativity, the room has “dim light” and is furnished with “tired-looking couches” (127). As Count G enters this room, the reader slowly comes to realize how the temptations offered by the restaurant are only one level of significance to the culinary establishment of the hall and to Count G’s desires.

What Count G sees initially on the surface level of the hall is the glamor—he commodifies this glamor as the “purely Chinese” experience that he seeks, marveling at the exoticism of the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and tastes. However, this is only a superficial understanding of what is “Chinese,” and the narrative points this out by showing the less desirable side to the hall. Tanizaki now describes Count G’s guide, who had previously been “tall,” “good-looking,” and “honest-looking” (122), as “unpleasant” and “lifeless,” with “the look of a ruined race” (127). While the Count is enticed by the culinary pleasures of the hall, he ignores the complexities and nuances of actual life in China, only seeking a superficial exotic experience through what is specifically desirable to him. Thus in establishing this disparity, Tanizaki shows an awareness of how shallow Count G’s culinary exoticism is.

Exoticism

Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Gourmet Club follows a group of five gastronomers seeking to fulfill their appetites for fine foods and exotic new flavors. Their conviction that cooking is an art is what fed their passion to find new flavors. Yet, the five men found themselves exhausting their resources, and becoming desensitized to the point where “Chinese food – that rich cuisine said to be the most developed and varied in the world; even that had become tasteless and boring as a glass of water.” It was in this quest to find the next “splendid new culinary achievement” that Count G finds himself looking toward the exotic. Tanizaki’s Gourmet Club introduces the idea of exoticism through Count G’s incessant quest for new cuisine. The story begs the question of what exotic food is and how the exoticism of food changes if taken out of its native environment. Furthermore, Tanizaki challenges the relationship between exoticism and authenticity to question what it is about modernity that eradicates exotic authenticity and how Count G’s overnight culinary success as illustrated at the close of the story reflects this question of exotic authenticity.

Exoticism in its simplest form means foreign but has taken on the connotation of being exciting, unique, and at some times grotesque. This is certainly the case in The Gourmet Club as the story is riddled with unusual and even disturbing dishes from Deep-fried Woman, Korean Style, to Phlegm-and-Spittle Liquid Jade. The Count’s need to fuel his passion for indulgent and exotic foods leads him to an opium den where he witnesses a Chinese banquet of unfamiliar yet enticing cuisine. It is important to note here that the notion of race underscores the exotic nature of the cuisine being served at the banquet. The Count’s racial identity separates himself from the experience of this food that he so longs for which further asserts the exotic nature of the cuisine being served. Additionally, this raises the notion of authenticity and how Tanizaki challenges the relation between exoticism and authenticity.

The count’s quest to find food manifests a yearning for authenticity through exoticism. The Gourmet Club exemplifies the ideal that the more exotic their discoveries are, the closer they are to the authentic form of cuisine which ultimately leads to the finest form of food. However, this authentic form of cuisine that the count yearns for is guarded by the President of the Chinese banquet as well as the narrator himself as neither character reveals the “naked facts of what went on that night” and is “strict on [its] choice of reader”. This indicates the extent to which authenticity and corresponding exoticism is guarded from being appropriated into the dominant culture. The food and pursuit of new and enticing cuisine by Count G in The Gourmet Club dramatizes exoticism by defining the notion of what it means to be exotic through the clear distinction of the other and underscoring it relationship with authenticity.

A Taste like No Other

For some, food is nothing more than sustenance for life, driven by the pangs of hunger. But for others, food is a matter of enjoyment driven by personal preference, to the extremes of transforming the act of consumption into an endless quest to fill the mental emptiness created by gluttony. The extreme unveils its existence in Tanizaki Junichiro’s short story “The Gourmet Club” beyond the mere sense of sight, manipulating all five basic human senses to heighten the act of consuming food and create an experience that can be classified as “exotic”. The immediate definition of the term “exotic” usually has some relation to something foreign and rare, but Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann take the discussion further through a culinary perspective in “The Culinary Other: Seeking Exoticism” by arguing how “exoticism” acts as an umbrella associated with the ideas of norm-breaking, foreign, ethnic, socially and geographically different and distant, and exciting. These conceptual ideas perpetuate themselves as criteria in Count G.’s subconscious as he journeys to discover his “orchestral cuisine”.

Overexposed to the flavors of Japanese cuisine, Count G. is immediately lured by Chinese cuisine, a craving conjured by the sound of the Chinese violin and by the subtle scent of shao-hsing rice wine. Upon discovering the Chechiang club in addition to being stirred by these two senses, he pictures the ethnic region as “a mystic realm of scenic beauty on the banks of Western lake” (112), painting an image of an unfamiliar yet alluring territory. Within the mysterious allure, however, there remains the sense that the region and the meal at hand are only somewhat socially and geographically distant. He shows some familiarity in being able to illustrate and recognize its characteristcs through past experience, paralleling an observation that people tend to “like [their] exoticism somewhat familiar, recognizable, controllable” (Johnston and Baumann, 114).

As expected in describing the food, there is emphasis on sight imagery in dramatizing the rarity of the meals, to the extent that the ignorant Count G. begs to “at least see what the meal’s like” (126).Yet ironically, it is revealed that the secret behind the exoticism is “gastronomical magic…tast[ing] with their eyes, their noses, their ears, and at times their skin…every part of them had to become a tongue” (131). In utilizing such descriptive textual imagery to stimulate the senses, Tanizaki intertwines Count G.’s fantasies with the reader’s while still leaving room for the reader to be the subject of his or her own figment of imagination. Although the idea of exoticism lies in the eye of the beholder, Tanizaki highlights the alliance formed over a mutual culinary fanaticism between the Chinese acquaintance and Count G., creating a sense of “equality to multiple ethnic cuisines” without leaving behind the “postcolonial ideologies of status and distinction” in the contrasting tension between epicures Mr. Chen and Count G (Johnston and Bauman, 125).

In “The Gourmet Club”, the fine line between interesting and unusual, overexposed and mainstream, is manipulated to generate an atypical experience, one completely dependent on the mind through the unification of the five senses. In essence, the food acts as the driving force in the epicurean quest for the fragments of “exoticism” defined in the article, dramatized through the descriptive imagery received by the five senses and the characters fueled by gluttony.

Exotic Senses and Food

The characters in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s short story “The Gourmet Club” absolutely adore and crave food, but apparently not so much as the idea of something different. They have become bored to death of the food that once excited them greatly, complaining “No matter what we eat, it’s all the same – no improvement” (p. 103). This dissatisfaction with existing foods that they thought they loved so well shows that it is really not food they love, it is the exoticism associated with foreign foods that entices them. “The Gourmet Club” depicts the concept of exoticism initially through this club of foodies’ love of foreign food before expanding to exotic senses, ways of eating, and unearthly methods of presentation that change “exotic” from being foreign to being surrealistically enthralling.

Before setting out on his quest to find new foods, the Count dreams about a giant mouth eating and salivating highly detailed food. In the dream sequence, the focus is on the look of the food and how appetizing and delicious the appearance of food cooking and being prepared is. “Odd-looking wrinkles began to appear on the surface of that viscous white substance. At first they were like the wrinkles on a dried plum; then gradually they got deeper, until finally the entire mollusk became hard, like a piece of paper that has been chewed on and spat out”(p. 105). The senses appealed to are initially scent and sight, but the latter quickly rises to prominence. This paints food as being appetizing through its appearance and the salivating that comes from seeing a familiar food and remember its taste and scent.

However, gradually the story reveals that the characters’ love of food is really a love of exoticism. The count becomes interested in the Chinese club because he smells rich Chinese food. This interest turns to lust and hunger when he sees the exclusivity and unearthly nature of the foods. For example, they serve “unborn piglet, boiled whole” (p. 116). This delicacy “preserved the original form of the animal, but what emerged from beneath the skin was … quite unlike cooked pork” (p. 116). The food is not normal or even apparently natural at all. Of the men eating the food, the Count reflected that “he had never yet known the grand satisfaction that was evident on [their] faces” (p. 117). Despite all that the Count had eaten in his life, he had yet to be that content.

When the Count brings his newfound Chinese food preparation to the Gourmet Club, the meals are given plain and common name, but their presentation is anything but. Instead of appealing to sight and smell like the Count’s dream, of the look and aromas of the food, they are served with no visual pretense at all. One meal is presented as a “wonderfully hot broth – thick [and] opaque” (p. 129) where the taste is not actually from the broth but from the belch it produces in the eater. The bok choi is presented in a pitch black room as what appears to be a dainty woman’s fingers in the patron’s mouth. The feast, and this meal in particular, plays upon the familiarity of the taste of food, but unfamiliarity of presentation that associates food with exoticism and sates the club’s seemingly endless appetite.

Exoticism with Gourmet Club

 Exoticism with Gourmet Club

Tanizaki Junichiro’s “The Gourmet Club” has exoticism, so he expresses his feelings and ideal by using character that has exoticism.  The story is about the gourmet club who are tired of the Japanese food, so they crave for some kind of exotic food.   Count, the leader of gourmet club, just walks around the road to find the food that he never tried, and finds the Chanchiang Hall, the private Chinese hall, that is full of actual Chinese food.  In the hall, he met and experienced his exotic experience- the genuine Chinese food.  Count understands the real meaning of exoticism from the hall, so he treats his exotic food to the gourmet members. Then they realize their exoticism.

     In the story, the author dramatizes food with the idea of exoticism.    Exoticism is an ideology that people who are unsatisfied with their reality go with this ideology because they long for any culture of another country’s longing and romance.  In other words, Count longs for exotic food like Chinese food in the story.  “Cooking was an art” (99) and “we need a kind of orchestral cuisine!” (103) are simple example about the author’s dramatizing technique.  In those simple scenes, the author uses hyperbole technique to dramatize food with exoticism.  Even though the author can express about food normally, he uses the hyperbole technique in those scenes because he can appeal the character’s expression and his intention well by dramatizing food.

     One of the best scenes with exoticism is the impression of A who is one of the member of gourmet club of “Bok Choi Fingers.”  For example, “A. thought the matter over even as he licked away at the fingers similar to the smell of the ham used in Chinese cooking” (135).  In this scene, A. is just waiting for the food to be served in the dim room, but suddenly he receives a woman’s massage.  However, that woman’s fingers are actually the food with Bok Choi.  Although the gourmet members who are really tired of foreign food made in semi-Japanese style, they have some taste in exotic Chinese food like the above mentioned Bok Choi.  That is, they realize the exoticism’s real meaning.  By using the hyperbole technique, the readers can feel the member’s feelings well even though the readers do not eat the food in real life.  Also, the readers can realize the member’s attitude is changed.

     In Count’s next meeting’s menu, all food’s names are dramatized such as “Pigeon-Egg Hot Springs, Fountain of Grapes, Phlegm-and-Spittle Liquid Jade” (139) and so on. He named all food by using dramatizing technique, so it makes the foods seem exotic even though those are semi-Japanese style food.  By using hyperbole technique to express the food, people can realize more exoticism from normal food and get a strong impression.  Therefore, the author dramatizes food with the idea of exoticism to convey his feeling and ideal through the book well.

Euphoria: An Analysis of Exoticism in The Gourmet Club

Exotic is strictly defined as something originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country. However, to be truly exotic is not simply to have a foreign pattern or single flavor; rather, it is a symphony of different experiences and emotions evoked by the item in question. This idea of a complete exotic experience is dramatized in Tanizaki Junichirō’s The Gourmet Club through the use of food.

Many people have said that the true value of something is not in the destination, but the journey; this idea is also prevalent in The Gourmet Club. The five men in the club ceaselessly search for delicious food, wandering the streets of Tokyo in search of that special, exotic meal. “They scoured all the eateries of Tokyo […] like curio collectors rummaging about in dubious secondhand shops on the off chance of making an unusual find” (102). Their quest emphasizes the importance of what they are searching for: food. To them, food is not simply something to survive; it is their reason for living. The comparison to curio collectors also suggests an exotic element to their search and implies a sort of discovery. Both the mystery and the discovery contribute to the idea of exoticism.

Another element of exoticism is the emphasis on beauty and the euphoria of experiencing it. This is exactly what the Count encounters at Chechiang Hall. Even before entering the place, he is thrown into an ethereal reality where his senses of taste and sound combine: “[…] when suddenly the melody became full, rounded, and plaintive like a voice that is thick with tears, he thought of a rich broth of braised sea cucumbers, so full-flavored that each mouthful keeps permeating one’s taste buds to their very roots” (109). Junichirō’s use of synesthesia links the deep emotions of the music to the complexity of a delicious meal; food becomes an emotional experience for both the Count and the reader. The fact that the music alone is enough to evoke such a reaction from the Count is only a prelude to the exoticism he encounters in the Hall itself. There he finds dishes he never encountered or dreamed of before. These dishes serve as inspiration for his exotic meals that can only be truly savored using the entire body: “[…]They did not merely taste the cuisine with their tongues: they had to taste it with their eyes, their noses, their ears, and at times with their skin. […] every part of them had to become a tongue” (131). Not only are the meals exotic, but also the way the men enjoy their food is completely novel. Mind and body must become completely immersed in the dining experience to fully savor the meal, suggesting euphoria in the act of eating. The emphasis on experiencing the food, rather than simply eating it, furthers the theme of exoticism. The ecstasy of food clearly demonstrates exoticism throughout The Gourmet Club.

The complete experience of food, both leading up to and the physical act of eating, dramatizes exoticism in The Gourmet Club. Junishirō demonstrates through emphasizing exoticism, that for the members of the club, food is something alluring, something to be coveted. He proves that food can be more than simple sustenance; it can be a euphoric, exotic experience.

The Gourmet Club – Exoticism through Internal Experience

Jui’ichiro Tanizaki’s The Gourmet Club tells a story of five men who are members of their own club, known as the Gourmet Club, on a quest to discover new and unusual cuisines as part of their hobby. Desperate to find something new, Count G ventures out one night in hopes to find something uncommon that will please his appetite. Stumbling upon a quaint little building known as the Chechiang Hall, his senses were enticed by the aroma coming from the building and is determined to discover what lies inside. The sense of exoticism is illustrated through the comparison of food with a symphony orchestra, and Tanizaki’s presentation of the “other”. These ideas builds up by encouraging the characters and the reader as well to use their imagination to create an internal experience.

In the beginning, Count G compares exotic cuisine with a symphony orchestra. He imagines the hall to have “rows of masterworks…a dazzling artistry of tastes…to the accompaniment of the Chinese violin, a full orchestra of flavors, resonant with luxury and pleasure” (112). This emphasizes the exoticism of Chinese cuisine because it is something out of reach of ordinary people. Usually an orchestra symphony is attended by the higher class, limited to those who are knowledgeable in classical music, and rare for ordinary people who do not have “refined” taste of music to attend. Therefore by having Chinese cuisine compared to a symphony, Tanizaki implies that it is exotic because it is socially-distant on the basis of social class (Johnson & Baumann, 109). Additionally, since this passage is an imagination of Count G, it encourages readers as well to fantasize this place, thus heightening the sense of distance between a real experience and what we dream or expect to experience, making it more exotic to us. Moreover, the obsession of these men have in finding unusual food is intensified when the narrator describes food with music once again as “…once heard, would make men dance madly, dance themselves to death. Food one just had to eat…until at last one’s stomach burst open” (104).  This exemplifies the relentless obsession these five men have in food to the point of driving themselves to the extreme, even death. Dancing one’s self to death connotes an unhealthy obsession for perfection just like Count G’s extreme fascination with unconventional food. It is also interesting to note that such comparison between two irreconcilable ideas together such as food and death, draws attention to the thin boundary that separates the two, suggesting that one’s sanity may be on the line when this boundary is crossed.

Another way food is used to dramatize exoticism is through the idea of consuming the “other”. The consumption of the “other” is established in the story when the narrator describes a dished called the “Deep-fried Woman, Korean Style” (138). The narrator describes it as a woman covered in a deep-fried tempura batter, and the members eats this batter off this woman. This literal interpretation of consuming the “other” displays exoticism in a way that it is a woman that is being used. Many times when we think of something exotic, we relate it to women because women exudes beauty. Furthermore, often times exotic cuisine is seen as mysterious and “norm-breaking” (Johnson & Baumann, 108). The fact that the woman is covered in batter is something that breaks the norm because it violates how food are usually served in the mainstream culinary world. Lastly, it exudes a sense of mysteriousness because as the members consume the tempura batter off her, they are slowly uncovering what is underneath. The consumer in this scene, and the reader as well, is using their imagination of what to be discovered after all the batter has been eaten.

Altogether, this produces an internal experience, for both character and the reader, and encourages the use of our senses to fully appreciate such an exotic experience.

Work Cited

Josee Johnston and Shyon Baumann. “The Culinary Other: Seeking Exoticism.” Ch 3 in Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape. New York: Routledge, 2010. 97-126. Print.

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

Food as the Holy Grail, and a Utopia That Doesn’t Exist

In order to dramatize the idea of exoticism in ‘The Gourmet Club’, food is presented in the form of a desirable object of pursuit that is attained through a quest-like journey, yet the story also hints that in reality such a Utopian state doesn’t actually exist.

Food is heightened to the level of ultimate desire in parallel with the theme of exoticism. Exoticism was originally an art form birthed to illustrate earthly fantasies with oriental pleasures, and of a primitive curiosity to experience items of other cultures. Right from the beginning, the narrator describes the gentlemen as idlers with no occupation, and seemingly plentiful of money. This in effect singles out eating as their only definitive pursuit, and therefore highlights the intensity of their quest for good food as the only ‘fulfillment’ left in their lives. In constructing such a quest which places food as the ending holy-grail, the process of searching for food is therefore in effect very forward-moving. Gentlemen of the gourmet club are never seen relishing on wonderful meals they have previously enjoyed, nor do they ever savor a certain cuisine twice. This underlying progressive mentality is crucial in outlining the same incentives for mankind to always seek out new pleasures, and is what keeps the gentlemen’s journey moving.  The members of the gourmet club hence never stop to appreciate existing flavors, but instead desire the charm of the unfamiliar, in their attempt to construct a Utopian of food

Food in many ways is utilized in shaping a mysterious state of perfect being for the gentlemen of the gourmet club. There are two important characteristics of this state, namely that it excites all of the senses, and also ironically, that it only exist in the mind and not in reality. Food, for the most part, is largely associated with taste and smell. In stretching this conventional set of sensory boundaries, the author expands Count G’s interaction with food so that he is stimulated in all aspects. In discovering the Chinese gathering, the Count is first drawn by the darkness of the ally, led by curiosity of sight. He is then attracted to the smell of rice wine, which stirs his appetite by pinpointing the presence of Chinese cuisine. Finally he catches the music of Chinese violins, which then elicits a torrent of imagery involving food. The Count takes sharp notes as the strong flavors of dragon fish, whereas richer tones are compared to thick broth. As a result seeking food enlarges to encompass all forms of sensory interaction, which is a defining quality of any utopia. Yet as exciting as this indulgence seems to be, this happy state doesn’t seem to actually exist. Much of the Count’s opinions are very subjective and not rooted in factual information. He judges Chechiang is an area with the richest ingredients without having ever been there. Also he readily admits that it is only according to people who had traveled there before that he understands Chinese cuisine in Japan to be of a different order altogether. None of these opinions which distinguishes Chechiang’s cuisine as superior is backed up by concrete proof. Which consequently implies that none of the Gourmet Club’s fantasies are indeed as magical as they are described. And that these men are in fact, mostly living in the high of their own imagination.

In conclusion, food in “The Gourmet Club” is structured as the reward at the end of a quest, which couples well with the idea of pleasure and desire in exoticism. On other hand, it is painted as a utopia which stimulates multiple senses, yet ultimately is one that is not believed to exist.

Obsessions with the Exotic

Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s “The Gourmet Club” is about five individuals whose desire for food leads them to a quest to finding a “symphony of foods! An orchestral cuisine!” (104). However, their desire for food takes a turn for the worst and turns into obsession for food that “their sole matter of concern from the moment the opened their eyes in the morning” (101) is what they are going to eat tonight. This obsession soon leads to a contest between the club members to see who can discovery a cuisine or food “whose flavors would make the flesh melt and raise the soul to heaven” (104). Their obsession with food highlights this obsession with the exotic in “The Gourmet Club” because their obsession with food is only satisfied with exotic dishes such as “Pigeon-Egg Hot Springs” (139), “Butterfly Broth” (139), etc.

The informal president Count G.’s quest for “an orchestral cuisine” (104) leads him to this Chinese Club where they “[enjoy] real Chinese food as they [listen] to that intoxicating music” (111).  He deems the food in this Chinese club to be delicious because it is authentic unlike the Chinese restaurants he and his club members went to. It is this authenticity that he craves because “he’d long suspected that such authentic Chinese food was precisely the ideal cuisine the members of the Gourmet Club were dreaming about” (112). His obsession with food leads him asking for the leftovers of this Chinese club’s meal because “he could hardly leave the place without at least a spoonful or two for himself” (120). This highlights Count G.’s obsession for exotic because he wants authentic Chinese cuisine even if it is to eat the leftovers of someone else. His obsession with food has literary overtake him because he says “when it comes to food, I lose control of myself, forget all commonsense!” when addressing the president of the Chinese Club. Count G.’s obsession to finding the ideal cuisine leads him to seek out authentic Chinese cuisine to satisfy his craving for delicious food. The authentic Chinese dishes are the same exotic dishes that satisfy the members of the Gourmet Club because Chinese cuisine is a foreign cuisine in Japan; therefore, an exotic cuisine in the food industry of Japan.

In conclusion, the Gourmet Club’s obsession with food leads them to search out exotic dishes to fulfill the hunger. In the end, the menu for that night’s Gourmet Club meeting was “Deep-fried Woman, Korean Style” which highlights just how much this obsession for food is also an obsession for the exotic because this dish is not “literally the flesh of a woman, deep-fried as tempura” (138), but is the tempura robe that clung to a beautiful girl’s flesh, who wearing this robe looked like a Chinese fairy, on a towel in the center of the table (138).  This obsession with food which leads to this kind of exotic method of consuming it gives the text a sense that this obsession will only lead to “raving lunacy or death” as Tanizaki Jun’ichirō ends “The Gourmet Club” with these exact words.

Work Cited

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