What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 10
As the series has progressed, Fumi Yoshinaga has expanded the world of her characters. Shiro and Kenji now share meals with a lot more people than each other, as we see more about the wider circles of their lives. For example, in the first chapter, the administrative assistant from Shiro’s law firm has taken her co-workers out to her parents’ restaurant. That’s the setting to find out a bit more about what kind of life a woman of her age might have, including her marriage plans. (That comes full circle in the last chapter, as Shiro is quizzed about his future plans for career and marriage.)
I enjoy the cultural insights these kinds of chapter stories give us, especially when it comes to food items I’ve never heard of. For example, the croquette sandwich consists of a breadcrumb-coated, fried patty of ground meat and mashed potatoes on a slice of bread with some cabbage. I suppose it’s a crunchier variation on our meat loaf sandwich, but the frying makes it sound much more decadent.
Shiro also gets together with his housewife friend when he’s given a gift box of somen noodles. He needs her family’s help to eat it all, so we get to see him interacting with her grandchild, as they have a meal of “ethnic foods”, or stir-fry and curry.
With his own family, Shiro has to take care of his father while his mother is in the hospital for surgery. When she’s home, they all prep and eat food together. Although their conversation is mostly about how delicious the meal is, there’s an undercurrent of reassuring emotion, reinforced by the traditional meal.
Shiro and Kenji get together with another couple to make fancy ricotta pancakes with all kinds of toppings. Kenji gives himself a makeover to combat worries about growing older. Everyone’s thinking about increasing age, as Shiro’s parents start cleaning out their house. It’s natural for middle-aged adults to think about these kinds of concerns, and it’s another thing that sets this series apart, that its characters aren’t teens or young adults.
What Did You Eat Yesterday? inspires me in two ways: Shiro’s meals always include tasty-sounding side dishes that show me more ways to include vegetables in a better balanced diet, and I’m touched by the love and respect expressed through cooking for those you care about. (The publisher provided a review copy.)