「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?