“Mmm, being able to bask in a sense of accomplishment equal to settling a case at work, and every day no less, is what makes cooking dinner great.” — [X]
So, I came across What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga quite by accident. I was browsing for treasures at The Good Egg’s closing sale* and I kind of grabbed volume four of this manga–the only volume on the shelf–out of some kind of desperation, to make The Good Egg experience last a little longer. I devoured the volume immediately. I have, since then, read volumes one, two, and three to catch up, and I have number five waiting for me.
The story follows a gay, Japanese couple in their forties, focusing on Shiro Kakei, the closeted lawyer who de-stresses from his long day by cooking the most delicious, low-budget Japanese meals. The art style is mesmerizing, choosing to follow a simple style to depict people, while using great detail to depict food. There isn’t much in the way of plot–the manga is described as “slice of gay life”–but we do get snippets of each of the men’s lives, a little what their dating history, what their respective work is like, what some of their fears are, etc.
In the first volume, we see how and why Shiro keeps a tight budget and wishes his partner would do the same; we get details about Shiro’s work though we don’t often see the cases resolved, we are introduced to the gay subculture in Japan, we get a glimpse into Shiro’s relationship with his parents, and we see how food brings him closer to people in unexpected ways. In the end, the food is really the star of the comic. Which is, honestly, why I love this series so much.
As a vegetarian, there may have been just one dish I could have made from the several meals described in the four volumes I’ve read, but I adore the way each recipe is presented and, NGL, my mouth waters for each one. As mentioned before, the art style is far more detailed where food is concerned, but the text is meticulous as well. Shiro is absolutely methodic in his cooking, going through each step in his mind as he cooks, which makes the manga double as a unique, illustrated cookbook.
That said, none of the food would be possible without Shiro and the goings-on in his life. Shiro and Kenji are a sweet couple with their ups and downs, and it’s fun to watch how home cooking makes their downs a little easier and their ups that much better. What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a light, ultimately happy, read. Highly recommended–especially if you’re a bit of a foodie.
*The Good Egg was a one-stop shop for any one interested in food, from home cooks to chefs. It had cookbooks, food literature and history, plus kitchenware. It was a blessing I barely got to enjoy as I only moved here a little over a year ago and I have a lot of regrets about it closing. Rest in peace, you delicious store.