Wish Fulfillment and Oishinbo

I was introduced to Oishinbo (story by Tetsu Kariya and art by Akira Hanasaki) by Ayr Muir at Clover Food Labs, and it immediately sucked me in. It's funny, entertaining, and very informative. I suppose another part of the appeal is just the novelty of food being taken so seriously. The set up for most of the stories are the same, there is a conflict about a specific food, the right way to cook it, or the ingredients to be used, and in the end the argument is settled by the perfect meal. The structure is almost that of a sports comic, and the idea of one person getting up in another person's face and screaming about the proper way to prepare a cabbage is endlessly entertaining to me.

(read right to left)

But also for me there is a bit of wish fulfillment in this comic. American comics are often accused of being simple wish-fulfillment fantasies. Superman's appeal comes from a wish to fly. Comics are often viewed as simple escapism for people who are not satisfied with their own lives.

However, the wish fulfillment in Oishinbo is a little more subtle. The characters speak rapturously about food and get into such little nuances, and I wish I could do the same. I wish I could speak about how a miso soup made with hatcho miso makes the flavor of a turnip become lucid. Wouldn't it be great to note the difference in quality of fish based on the river it was caught in?

But in truth, I have no idea. There are few fish I can identify by sight, but not many, and in terms of identifying where they came from? By taste? Forget it.

It's a nice fantasy though.

(and I think it's a fantasy a lot of people have because there are a lot of faux-foodies out there who go on and on about how much they love food and how important food is to them, but then you eat their cooking and they can't even tell that their potatoes haven't been cooked all the way through, and you just have to smile and suffer through it, I mean really)