What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 9
What Did You Eat Yesterday? volume 9 may be the last volume of the series by Fumi Yoshinaga we see for a while. There’s no volume 10 listed yet at Amazon, and sales reportedly haven’t been great. That’s a shame, since this is a wonderful manga, blending gorgeous art, well-realized characters, realistic interpersonal challenges, and a deep dive into a particular skill. In this case, it’s cooking, with Shiro making tasty-sounding everyday meals to feed himself and his boyfriend Kenji, and to demonstrate his feelings.
Due to the episodic nature of the series, you can jump in anywhere, with each chapter standing alone as a glimpse into an everyday situation, whether it’s coping with the closing of a favorite supermarket (and the resulting rise in prices due to a lack of competition) or revealing why they have such a good deal on their apartment rent. But the more time you spent with these two, the more you come to love them and wish good things for them.
Given Shiro’s reliance on convenience ingredients, including pre-made sauces, for his home-style cooking, I can’t make a lot of his dishes, because I don’t have access to Japanese groceries. This volume does have a simple potato gratin recipe that seems very workable, though, accompanied by yummy-sounding chicken legs in vinegar sauce.
I’ve learned a lot, too, from his attitudes and approaches: How easy (and healthy) it is to make vegetable side dishes if you work to balance your meal, and if you think about them when shopping. How different ingredients can be swapped into the same techniques for different dishes. How relaxing cooking for loved ones can be, and how expressive of your caring for them.
That was why I particularly liked the chapter about Shiro and Kenji spending New Year’s together. Adults can struggle with how to cope with parental expectations when they start forming their own families. While on the surface this story is very straightforward, about what dishes to make for the holiday, the undercurrents are deep and subtle, about what Shiro’s choices mean about his loyalties and love.
In another chapter, Shiro has to admit to his age and get reading glasses, something older readers may be able to empathize with. I also enjoyed seeing his housewife friend interact with another gay couple, who’ve come over for help when their refrigerator breaks. They all end up making special dishes with the gourmet ingredients. Most touching, though, was the chapter where the two go to see the cherry blossoms together. It’s a simple activity, but a public one, which reinforces their togetherness.