Ask Boichi about Food 1 – Food exploration

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Food exploration

“Ask Boichi” (about Food) is a special corner on Boichi.com where I answer the fans’ questions. About the foods shown in my works or even talk about Japanese, Korean and every kind of culinary cultures from around the world. My answers and the stories shared comes from my experiences and opinions.

How frequently do you go to a new restaurant or try some new food in order to be able to draw it more accurately? Of the things you have tried to put in a manga, which have you most enjoyed and why?

– Asher Zawodniak

Dear Asher Zawodniak. Thanks for the good questions. 

I love food!!! But I guess everyone already know that.

I love eating and cooking all kinds of food. Researching recipes, reading books about food, and of course I love to draw those foods in my manga.

At first, I became interested in cooking because I wanted to be a good boyfriend for my girlfriend. Then I cooked and shared food with my assistants. After that I started to want to draw my own cooking manga.

Since I moved to Japan, it became my special way to understand and get closer to Japanese readers and culture. Now I have a vision about drawing my own cooking manga essay.

Basically being a Mangaka is a very busy job so it’s really hard to make time for social interactions. Like hanging out with friends or traveling. In my case, I didn’t study Japanese even though I lived in Japan.

I believe the most important thing for a mangaka is to spend as much time as possible drawing good manga for his readers. Not to speak Japanese with Japanese people.

But even though I am very busy, I still eat three meals a day like everybody else. It’s in those moments that I take the time to understand Japanese culture when possible.

It’s also a very good way to understand other cultures (in my opinion.). That is because food has is the essence of human culture and life in every country. It represent moments of history, life, wisdom, effort to overcome suffering, economy and environment for all those cultures.

Therefore, if anyone want to be a mangaka in Japan, I think enjoying Japanese food is a very good start to get interested in Japanese culture. 

It’s for the common purpose shared by my food column called <Boichi’s Food Adventure> and <AskBoichi about Food>. Through these special corners, I would like to present other things than just manga technics to those aiming to become a mangaka in Japan. 

Now it is time to answer our dear Asher Zawodniak’s questions. 

There are many types of foods appearing in my manga, some I experienced and others not.

I’ve tasted most of the foods appearing in <Sun-Ken Rock> and <Wallman>. I usually carry my camera and take pictures of my food experiences. Then I classify them separately while building a database in my computer.

I checked my computer’s data while answering your question and I counted 62,156 pictures in 1,137 folders.

The dishes in my works are prepared as materials every days. Of course, sometime I need to go and find them at the source itself. However, if my work is a “Fantasy” or “SciFi” then I don’t have much to base myself on.

An example, for the food in <Space Chef Caisar> I mostly researched through books. I couldn’t try and experience with them because those foods did not exist in the real world.

On the other hand, the dishes from <I want to feed Yumin> really do exist and I went twice to each restaurant for the sake of realty and details. I’d like to introduce these reports later in my Food Adventures column.

When I prepared <Terra Formars Asimov>, I read books about Russian foods and then went to a Russian restaurant in Tokyo.

I planned to experience the local cuisine in Russia itself but because of troubles with the deadline, I had to cancel the trip to Russia. My editor, wife and cameraman went to Russia instead of me.

I tried to put Russian food in my works through the food they brought back and the pictures taken there.

Kvass (Kbac)

This is “Kvass (Kbac)” that my wife brought back from Russia.

She said it’s what people drink in Russia. It had a pretty strange taste but not so bad. No, actually it’s pretty good. Every food has its own character. 

I also tried black bread from Japan and the one my wife brought back from Russia. I sliced it or ripped it by hand. Unfortunately, neither way to eat it appeared in <Terra Formars Asimov>.

This is an instant cup ramen called <Doshirak>. It’s a popular instant ramen brand in Russia. In fact, it was also produced in Korea since 1986 but the taste of Russian version might be different from the original.

Russians like to add some mayonnaise in cup-noodles so I tried it Russian style.

I cooked Borscht using an instant sauce from Russia. It’s hard find sugar beet at local markets in Japan so instead I put a lot of onion and cabbage.

I prepared some black bread and mayonnaise brought from Russia as lunch.

This way, I tried to understand and feel Russia itself as to draw <Terra Formars Asimov>

The most enjoyable food experience appearing in my manga was Russian food, it’s a relatively recent one. Also the first time I tried that kind of food that I’d never seen before. That’s why I still clearly remember the moment when researching.

However, it’s very hard to say which was the most memorable dishe. I can say that I’ll always remember the <Poguri Ramen> and <Dabang-coffee> from Sun-Ken Rock (Dabang = coffee and tea house).

I remember “Poguri ramen” because I’d heard that some fans really tried to eat it that way after having read the Mount Jiri training chapters from Sun-Ken Rock.

But I’ll always feel sorry for them because it’s not at all a delicious food… Well, personally I do enjoy them pretty much.

Recently, I’ve often been eaten Poguri ramen.

I’m really busy nowadays so it’s hard to go out and eat some good food. “Poguri ramen” is good choice to have on busy schedule.  It’s very cheap and I don’t have to wash the dishes.^^

The other memorable food I mentioned is “Dabang-coffee” seen in Sun-Ken Rock vol.1.

It’s the coffee made from an instant coffee mix with artificial cream and sugar with raw egg yolk on top. You can also add some sesame oil if you’d like to.

I had never personally tried this coffee until showing it in Sun-Ken Rock!!!

Korean dabang coffee is from Korean coffee culture but it’s from a very old trend in Korea now, even ten years ago when I started Sun-Ken Rock.

This is the coffee culture from the older generation (from the 60’s). Even I only heard it from word of mouth but I really wanted to show it in Sun-Ken Rock.

I was too busy back then, Sun-Ken Rock was just starting its serialization in Young King magazine. Many things required my full focus and Dabangs in Korea had almost disappeared so they were hard to find. That’s why I asked my staffs to go and find some Dabang  as to try “Dabang coffee”.

They found an old dabang in a small city on the outskirts of Seoul. They when ahead and tried some and I recreated it in my studio from what they reported.

This is how it came to be in Sun-Ken Rock. These are the pictures I took in June 2006.

Making of the Dabang-coffee.

I used instant coffee mix. The yellow can is Korean sesame oil.

I took some pictures and drew it.

Of course I drank it too. How is the taste…? Well…I can’t tell.

Why did the old generation of Korean men drink this every morning?

It’s not for the taste but it was a chance to experience the new culture coming from the west in their time. They may have heard about Americans and Europeans drinking coffee and eating eggs every morning.

Maybe the Koreans wanted to try the western lifestyle. In those times of hardships, this coffee would give them hope and energy for a better tomorrow.

– Boichi

You too, ask your question to Boichi

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