「未知なる既知」 (Michinaru Kichi)
“The Unknown Known”
We learn more about Group B this episode as the focus shifts away from Souma and towards Megumi, Nao and Hisako. Let’s start with Megumi because (love it or hate it) I’m biased towards her and she’s shown so much growth since her introduction. Megumi is finally showcasing techniques and skills that she had all along and it’s incredible what she knows. Not only can she fillet a monkfish, but she can do it the “old-fashioned way” (which I’ve never actually seen before) and it doubles as a show for people watching. It’s been a common theme in the past few arcs, but showmanship and watching someone prepare food can enhance the eating experience. I’ve never actually prepared monkfish myself (it’s not cheap to find here) but I can imagine that not everyone can fillet it and skin it well. People don’t often know how to prepare odd sea creatures like that… not to mention that it’s super scary looking. If you’ve had monkfish before, you’ve probably eaten the tail because it’s the only part of the fish that has enough meat to serve a healthy portion on a plate. However, the anime made it look like Megumi filleted the entire thing and was going to use, the entire thing. Monkfish has a tendency to get dry easily so poaching it or strewing it would be a good application to flavor it as well as keep it moist. I’m excited to see what Megumi makes out of it.
Nao is the new student who I’ve been most anxiously waiting to see more about. Turns out, her cooking is just as creepy as she is and just as unpleasing to the eye (no offense!). The ingredient that Nao uses that smells “so bad” is a fermented fish called kusaya and it turns basically all the judges away. It’s not as “terribly tasting” as it smells and perhaps it’s because I’m not always turned off by the smell of food, but I would’ve dug in. As a fair judge, you should always try the dish even if it’s not what you expect it to be to give the student an equal chance so I applaud Sendawara Orie (Hikasa Yoko) for giving it a shot. If you’re curious what Nao’s dish smells like, personally I think kusaya smells like garbage or poop. Literally. Imagine walking past a giant landfill on a hot day and you get a sniff of a lot of garbage with who knows what. That’s what I would describe kusaya (and Nao’s dish) as. However, I’ve grown up surrounded by my family eating unpleasant smelling food (like stinky tofu and durian – ugh, I hate durian though) so all I can say is, don’t judge a book by its cover before you try it.
At the end of the episode Hisako shows up and not only does she defeat Nao by a whole 8 points, but she actually has a specialty too! I always thought she just cooked well and had Erina coach her, but girl! She’s a top contender on her own and with a family history in medicinal cuisine. Say what…? I didn’t even know that was a “type of cuisine”. When I think of medicinal cooking, I remember my grandparents brewing me drinks from “medicinal” herbs and sticks and grass that looks like it came from my backyard. Who knows what I’m talking about? If Hisako can actually cook while giving people rejuvenating and revitalizing effects, I’d be on board with that new cuisine movement. A lot of the times, people “think” something is healthy and therefore, there’s a huge placebo effect in play. Hisako’s plate seems to do more than that and after eating Nao’s bowl of laksa, having a cleansing bowl of soupy curry might just be what you need. Not only does Hisako beat Nao with her dish though, there’s a flashback that indicates that this is her second time doing so. This might’ve been a shokugeki to be Erina’s right-hand woman, and Hisako obviously wins showing her worth to be there. I felt bad for Nao, but hey! Not everyone can be at the top (even though all these students are already better than average). I really liked seeing the “White” version of Nao appear… maybe we’ll see more of this “Pure” side of her now that she’s infatuated with Hisako instead. Unfortunately with the remainder of the students left for judging, I think this means Nao won’t make it to the top 4. I don’t know who will top Hisako (at a whopping 92 points!) but we have the Italian brothers, Megumi, Alice and Miyoko left in Group B.
Bottom Line – @RCCherrie: Curry all around ~ Loving the creativity in some of these dishes and the meat/grain pairings. Megumi finally shows off some of her skills and it’s carving monkfish?! Yum! One of my favs. The flashbacks w/ Nao & Hisako provide good context for their feud over Erina…that ending tho o_o