Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 9
I’m impressed that as the Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu series has continued, our knowledge of the recurring cast has allowed for stories that move beyond delicious food to more subtle explorations of family and political motivations. Although the delicious food is still present, making my mouth water as I read.
In volume 9, those stories include some humanizing moments for Gehrnot the tax collector. He almost has a reunion with his brother, the traveling actor, and he helps some warehouse owners figure out what to do with an overwhelming harvest of rice. The simple, comforting dish in that latter chapter is a hallmark of this series. The food isn’t always fancy, but it’s always drawn and described to sound tasty. And I enjoyed seeing a character who began as a villain become better rounded. It’s impressive that we learn so much about him in a chapter where he’s spending most of it hiding his face.
The book opens, though, with a feast of fried food. A traveling storyteller, secretly a spy, has reported back on the pub to the leader of the neighboring kingdom. Unfortunately, his tales of the glorious food are not believed. He returns, in an attempt to prove himself, but he ties himself in knots feeling guilty about his disguise. The waitress’ awareness, sign of a skilled professional, makes him nervous, and he takes every friendly statement amiss. I feel sorry for the poor guy. In a later chapter, the queen herself goes undercover to sample the cuisine for herself.
The last two chapters talk about how cuisine from one culture can change when it needs to take into account local ingredients or under new chefs who bring their own tastes. It takes time to develop cooking skill, but cross-cultural influences can create new and delicious meals. It’s a great note to end on.