Soup and Shadows

In his remarkable essay “In Praise of Shadows” (1933), Jun’ichirō Tanizaki expounds on his appreciation for the imperfections, tarnishes, and subtleties – shadows, broadly writ – that permeate and define everyday life in Japan. In discursive, flowing prose, Tanizaki discusses the patina objects acquire with repeated use, the subtle glow emitted by paper lanterns, the darkening and softening of wood over time, the fluidity and softness afforded by calligraphy brushes and paper. Over the course of these discussions, Tanizaki reveals what appears (at least in the context of the essay) to be a fundamental cultural divide. Where Western culture values illumination, clarity, and logic, Japanese aesthetic sensibilities place a premium on subtlety, haziness and ambiguity – that is, on the border between light and dark, on shadows.

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The Peko Peko Cookbook is for Sale!

I’m very excited to announce that Peko Peko, a collaborative charity cookbook for Japan, is now for sale!

The book, which was curated and organized by Marc of No Recipes, Rachael of La Fuji Mama, and Stacie of One Hungry Mama, contains over fifty Japanese and Japanese-inspired recipes accompanied by beautiful color photos, shot by Marc. My own contribution, a vegetarian take on unagi made from deep-fried sweet potato patties, was inspired by a recipe from Noriko Sugita-Becraft, an Oregon-based artist.

Each book costs $29.95, $11.45 of which goes to GlobalGiving. (For more on GlobalGiving and their mission in Japan, check out this page.) The remainder goes toward printing and shipping. Neither Blurb nor any of the contributors, editors, or designers will receive anything. Not a penny.

But this book is not about me, nor is it about any of the other contributors (wonderful writers, cooks, and photographers though they may be). It is about Japan and its people, and about showing our support for them in this time of need.

You can preview and purchase the book here.

I’ve bought my copy.  Have you?