「麻と辣」 (Má and Là)
“Má and Là”

So sacrilegious right? I should love Chinese food… but I don’t. But! I love mapo tofu!… even though I don’t like spicy food. That’s the funny thing about food, you should never judge it too quickly. You never know what you’re going to get depending on the chef, the restaurant, the quality of food etc. In actuality, my spice tolerance is next to zero (e.g. too much black pepper is too spicy for me!) but mapo tofu is one of those dishes that I’ll always make an effort to eat because I love it that much. And it’s not so much the spice that’s attractive to me (because nothing red and glowing is my preference). In actuality, I just love the sauce and the soft tofu and how it mixes so well with rice. It’s the same idea as curry, where you have sauce that’s mixed with rice and it becomes this iconic dish across the country. So good! I even like how the sauce actually comes in packages now where all you add is water and tofu and it’s easy to make at home. As for the black pepper bun… that’s a creative one. I haven’t had one of these in North America before but in China, it’s just street food. You get it at markets (like on the anime) and it’s so good and hot! The outside is exactly as they explained it – flakey but made of dough and the inside is hot and filled with meat! So amazing! It’s like a normal meat bun but denser and fuller with a different mixture of spices that make it what it is. Highly recommended for those that haven’t tried it before and want to try some street Chinese food. I don’t know where you can get it outside of China, but if you ever get the chance – do it!

Now back to the episode. We’re only 2 episodes in so it might be too early to say, but I’m impressed by the pacing so far this season of Shokugeki no Souma . There’s just enough of the pre-market preparation that makes it interesting to see how Souma comes up with his bun idea, but not too much that you lose sight of the Moon Festival. Of course, I can’t help but adore seeing Souma and Megumi together again. They’re seriously OTP, you can’t deny that chemistry! Souma also gets some insights from Alice, Erina and Hisako when he prepares his version of a mapo tofu. Even if they’re in the same class, I never thought they were that close and the Stagiaire with Hisako and Souma was so short that I never really felt a solid friendship from them. However, the anime continues with Erina providing a lot of insights on the difference in spices and regions of China, which eludes to the title of the episode. It’s a bit offside though, all things considering that Souma didn’t necessarily make mapo tofu in the end. I mean, why compete with someone else’s specialty when there’s so many other Chinese dishes you can prepare? Sichuan is only but one region or area of China and there’s definitely a lot of other ways you can prepare spices that may outshine mapo tofu if prepared well. Black pepper buns is one but what about dan dan noodles!? My gosh, that’s my favorite!

I can’t wait to see how the Moon Festival turns out, to see Souma turn the situation around. Not only does Terunori actually have staff and preparation and experience behind him, but a HUGE line-up as well. Souma… well he has Megumi who is awesome but he’s still only a two-person team. Even if he had a huge line-up as well, can he meet demand? Or does he plan to go up to all the people waiting for mapo tofu and fill them up with buns first? That would be an interesting strategy but Souma likely has another one up his sleeve. Another scene which didn’t get a lot of time (which I thought was a shame because I would’ve watched a whole episode of that) was hearing about Ikumi and Nao’s shokugeki. That’s such a loss since Nao certainly deserves some more time with the viewers; I barely know anything about her. Akira, Alice and Ryou also manage to make a booth of their own (or rather, Alice just forcing her way in there)… and I feel like that’s just an interesting trio to watch for humor sake. Akira and Alice going at it just makes my day, and opposites attract right?

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  1. Better pacing this week. With the announcement that this season will be 2-cour, it’s relieving to know that they can take things slower this time. They still only animate characters to the barest minimum required, which irks me.

    Comedy highlight was clearly the school anthem, as Soma was somehow the only one who didn’t know the words! 😀 The blank stare everyone had while singing was the icing on the cake.

  2. I do feel like the Stagiare was too quickly-paced, but I kind of love Hisako and Yukihira’s relationship that develops after it. They’re so… I dunno, they don’t interact much, but every time they do she’s all stern but she’s also really blase about having his back. It’s cute.

    It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Nao’s shokugeki of course, but it is nice to see the Don RS starting to take off. It really gives a nice sense of progression.

  3. I feel like the background music team is really bringing their A game, too. Like when Megumi and Soma were taste testing at the Polar Star dorm. It’s so soothing, and then it switches to a bouncier rural song when she gets flustered, it’s awesome.

  4. Mapo tofu goes well with rice, though it depends what kind of mapo tofu it was cooked. Some restaurants cook it thick sauce, some cook it oily with chili & Sichuan pepper.

    Seems like Kuga favors the spicy authentic side of the Chinese cuisine. But the Chinese cuisine itself is more than that. Cause I’m a Chinese myself.

    Real Xero8420
      1. Well I did, but while spicy, theirs are usually more leaning towards sour & fishy. Fishy as in they tend to use fish sauce into their cooking. Forgot to tell you that I came from Malaysia, and I’m familiar with Thai foods. So as Indonesian cuisine that are spicier.

        Real Xero8420
      2. Thai is actually fairly weak in terms of spicy spice, though it does wonders with taste and fragrance.

        If you want to dabble in the spiciest depths of Chinese cuisine, Sichuan is a false shepherd. Hunan food still has me traumatised, and that was many years ago XD

    1. Plenty, given China is one of the oldest e xisting civilizations in the world.

      They got Aristocratic, Imperial, Beijing, Shandong, Cantonese, Fujian (Hokkien), Hakka, Sichuan, Teochew, Yunnan, Shanghai, Hunan etc.

      Mostly provinces have their own regional cuisines. Quite diverse for centuries.

      Real Xero8420
      1. Going off the top of my head, so I could be completely wrong, there are eight big regional cuisines in China.

        Guandong (Cantonese), Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui and Shandong.

        Anyways, some minor clarifications. I count Shanghai within the Jiangsu bracket, and Beijing doesn’t really have a distinct cuisine so to speak of – due to being an amalgamation of many types.

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