What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 14
Obviously, I’m not rushed to keep up with Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? series — but since we’re at a point where we’re lucky to get one volume a year, I think I’m better off saving it to savor. Much like the many delicious-sounding meals Shiro makes for Kenji.
What Did You Eat Yesterday? volume 14 came out about a year ago, and the next book (yay for continuing!) is due out May 2021. As with the previous book, the stories here continue to explore adult concerns. We start with Shiro catching up with his housewife friend Kayoko as they share seaweed packages and chat about buying a school backpack for her grandson.
Yoshinaga keeps conversation and cooking interesting by having characters come into and out of kitchen and dining areas, showing characters expressing themselves visually with expression and gesture, and lovingly illustrating the ingredients, pots, preparation, and table settings. Kenji’s role is most often to gush over the meals Shiro makes, but he does it with such poetry and verve that his enthusiasm leaps off the page.
One couple — daughter of a restaurant owner married to the presumptive heir to the business — has only a loose connection to our lead characters, as she works in the same legal firm Shiro does, but I loved the honest conversation they had about how to cope with people’s expectations for them to have kids.
Another chapter reveals that Shiro’s co-workers still don’t realize he’s gay. When someone tries to use his name to commit expense account fraud at a hostess bar, they know he’s not involved not because he’s committed to another man, but because he’s straight-laced (so to speak) and goes home on time. The mapo tofu that’s made in this section doesn’t have much at all to do with the story, but it’s a nice reminder to make extra of basic ingredients and plan ahead for future meals.
Shiro and Kenji celebrate New Year’s Eve with another couple, but they end up giving up early and getting together at a more reasonable time the next day to enjoy traditional meal items for the holiday. I could definitely relate to finding a good night’s sleep more entertaining than fighting crowds at popular locations, even if one of the other men is “selfish… with [a] sharp tongue”. I don’t know what those two see in each other, but it’s amusing to read about. And their “found family” works for them.
There are also discussions of gravesite planning and whether partners are accepted by parents, and Kenji makes dinner for himself one night. I love spending time with these characters, even as their activities are so low-key and everyday. It’s charming. And educational, as I’m reminded of sensible ways to think about food, budgeting, and cooking.