What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 12
Now that we’ve caught up to the Japanese releases, enjoying this excellent cooking and relationship manga requires patience. In other words, What Did You Eat Yesterday? volume 12 is the only volume we’re going to get this year, since this is the only installment that came out in its home country in 2016. (I talked about volume 11 earlier this year, although it came out at the end of 2016 in the US.)
Thankfully, Fumi Yoshinaga’s story of a gay couple and their meals is always worth the wait. It’s a brilliantly drawn exploration of food and feelings shared when eating together. The book opens with generations sharing sukiyaki as a special treat. Shiro is taking his parents on a trip while they can still travel, so his boyfriend Kenji goes to visit his mother and sisters.
I found the underlying discussion about only using beef for special occasions an unusual insight into differences between America and Japanese eating expectations. Pork is preferred for being cheaper, and they all enthuse over the “fine-looking meat” before enjoying it. That difference carries over to the next chapter, where Shiro wants to use up some baking powder, so “American sweets” are recommended. They decide to make apple muffins, even though no one knows exactly what they are. (I’m surprised apple pie didn’t come up, but that may be too much of an Americanism.)
With another dish, not as much attention is made of the contents, but the meal for two adult men features only one small chicken thigh cut up in a stir-fry. This is a lighter, healthier way to eat, emphasizing a variety of smaller dishes focused on vegetables.
This manga, unlike a lot of the school stories I read and enjoy, deals more with older people’s daily life. How one copes with aging parents, for example, or how active one plans to be after retirement are concerns I can relate to, and seeing other people have similar questions is reassuring. Relationships change as well as one gets older; a playboy at Kenji’s hair salon has to deal with whom he can attract as he’s aging, and Shiro ponders how his reaction to a potential proposition has changed now that he’s settled.
One interesting chapter deals with trying to get some more administrative help at the law office and the struggles when someone doesn’t fit in. I was impressed that, even with Shino (the office manager) feeling overtired and just wanting to slap something together for dinner, she comes up with an avocado/squid rice bowl with two side dishes. It looks delicious — but every meal Yoshinaga draws does — and is inspiring in its balance with protein and veggies.
My biggest complaint about the book is that, while the black cover is striking, it made it hard to get a copy without dings and color breaks. I wanted to talk about this volume at its release, but I only just now got a replacement at my comic shop, since the first arrived damaged. Oh, and it’s also a tricky read if you’re hungry! So many tasty-sounding dishes make my mouth water.