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April 14, 2014

Bento Bako Weekly: What Did You Eat Yesterday volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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whatdidyoueat1Title: What Did You Eat Yesterday?
Author: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Vertical Inc. [THANK YOU VERTICAL]
Volume: Volume 1 (of at least 7), $12.95
Vintage: 2007 by Kodansha, March 2014 by Vertical
Genre: Food, yaoi, slice-of-life

What Did You Eat Yesterday? follows the life of lawyer Shiro Kakei and hair stylist Kenji Yabuki. Their personalities are about as different as night and day, with Shiro very budget conscious and somewhat quiet, while Kenji is outgoing and tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve. How these two men got together is a mystery, but they seem comfortable in their routine, with Shiro balancing the budget and doing the grocery shopping and cooking, and Kenji…eating Shiro’s cooking. While Shiro may seem like a gourmet, he’s actually quite frugal, and searches for the best sales and deals when planning out the week’s meals. However, his unwillingness to waste any food can lead to some interesting and quite tasty meals. Healthy, too, which keeps both men, now over forty, looking young and fit. Shiro in particular has youthful good looks, much to the dismay of those around him. Also much to the dismay of his co-workers, Shiro makes extremely varied and interesting full meals that put their own daily diets to shame. It’s his frugal shopping habits and cooking style that lead Shiro to a beautiful friendship with Kayoko, whom he meets during a watermelon sale. His frugal nature continues at work, where he keeps strict hours (so he has time to shop and cook, of course) and only attempts to take on simplistic, boring cases. This doesn’t always work out, however, as his family and friends tend to send their friends and relatives to him for legal counsel. Speaking of Shiro’s family, they have a rather odd understanding of their son’s lifestyle. It’s clear they accept him for who he is, but it’s also clear they don’t understand who he is. Fortunately there’s always plenty of good food to bring everyone together – a good, lovingly cooked meal seems to solve most, if not quite all, problems.

I’ll be honest with you guys. About 75% of this book is Shiro cooking, talking about cooking, or buying ingredients for cooking. So first warning, do not read this manga while hungry. You might try to eat the food off the pages, and paper doesn’t taste all that great. Second of all, if you’re not interested in food or cooking, and you’re not a fan of Yoshinaga, this book isn’t for you. Only foodies and serious Yoshinaga groupies need apply (I fall squarely into the second category, which is why I also own a copy of Not Love But Delicious Foods). If you’re looking for some yaoi, well, the elements are there, Yoshinaga-style, heartwarming and a bit awkward (mainly on Shiro’s side). But don’t come looking for steamy sexy scenes, unless you find steamy cooking sexy. This is a very simple book, but it’s pleasant. Shiro and Kenji’s relationship is charming and easily followed even with just the small glimpses Yoshinaga provides. Their dynamic is clear, though their history together isn’t, but hopefully that will be revealed here and there as the series goes on. The book really is a delight to read (particularly if you fall into one or both of the categories mentioned previously), and it’s sure to make you hungry. Not only does Shiro list in detail each dish he cooks, but Yoshinaga adds recipes in-between chapters (that coincide with whatever the chapter’s meal was), so you could legitimately follow the recipes and Shiro’s detailed thought process to make the meals in the manga. Personally, I really want to try making my own strawberry jam. I also really love Yoshinaga’s middle-aged men, so I’m quite happy with this manga. It’s also something like my thirtieth Fumi Yoshinaga book (that’s thirty, 3-0), so it’s clearly a given I was going to buy this one (and will continue to). I’m super biased here, but I’m really glad Vertical took a chance on this series.




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