What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 6
It’s so entertaining reading more about Kenji and Shiro’s relationship as it continues, with key moments involving food. Meals are such important family moments, and I love the emphasis on preparation and sharing of home cooking as a carrier of deep feeling, as well as the conversations the two men have over dinner.
My favorite scene of the entire series so far occurs in this volume, as the two spend time with another gay couple at a pickup baseball game. Shiro doesn’t have other gay friends, since his career as a lawyer (and his restrained personality) has kept him mostly closeted. He’s beginning to get to know this other couple, and to be more comfortable with being himself in public, although one of the friends is terribly rude when it comes to his bento choices.
The other, overly emotional man thinks “gay bentos have to look good!” so he’s made a cute, decorative lunch. Although Shiro’s bento is all brown, it’s much tastier — with fewer unusable leftovers and less work, demonstrating his cooking philosophy.
But first, Shiro and Kenji have an important showdown. Some readers have asked for more emphasis on the relationship, and they’ll love this chapter, as Kenji blatantly presents his jealousy of Shiro spending time alone with another guy. The two work it out, good to see, but more importantly, this scene allows Fumi Yoshinaga to demonstrate how beautifully she draws emotional reactions.
That isn’t the only compromise the couple makes, as we get to see Shiro celebrate his birthday in a way that will also make Kenji happy. Shiro also spends time with his housewife friend, who makes a key observation about how the two men handle money. It’s practical and yet touching, which sums up the series.
The food in the next-to-last chapter will give US readers an interesting perspective, as Shiro is gifted some amazing-looking steaks, but he says he’s “never cooked any” before, so he has to look up how to handle it. What he comes up with, with side dishes of potatoes, string beans, pickled vegetables, and cabbage-bacon soup, is a fascinating Japanese twist on a classic American meal.
I continue to recommend that Vertical get a knowledgeable cook to polish the translation when it comes to the recipes, since it’s laughable to read about “balls of pepper” (which I assume means peppercorns) and “a laurel leaf”, which we call a bay leaf. It is very cute, though, when Shiro, thinking through instructions to himself, punctuates several of them with “yum”. (The publisher provided a review copy.)