A little over three weeks following my last Author's Picks article on traveling around the world, I decided to go for another one. This time, though, it's on the topic of food.
Obviously when one thinks about world travel, one also has to consider the cuisine in those far-flung places. However, in actual fact, my inspiration to create this article wasn't based on trips to those nations, but the NHK program titled "Sara Meshi"（サラメシ）. The show focuses on the working class in all sorts of industries and what they go for in terms of lunch with the title being an abbreviation of "salaryman's meal". It's hosted by veteran actor Kiichi Nakai（中井貴一）who narrates it as if he were trying to become an anime character. The lovely thing about "Sara Meshi" is that it doesn't only show the workers' bento but also presents some of those people's favourite eateries during the busy noon hour.
I think this has been a relatively recent segment to the show but at the end, "Sara Meshi" has also been focusing on the beloved restaurants and dishes for those famous folks who have departed this mortal coil. For example, one episode featured the late Hideki Saijo's（西城秀樹）favourite restaurant and his steak don.
Now, the impetus for me to write up this Foodie Kayo list was last night's episode in which folk singer-songwriter Kenji Endo（遠藤賢司）who had passed away in late 2017 was given his tribute through an eatery that he once frequented. His beloved dish there was curry rice, and not surprisingly, one of his big hits was "Curry Rice" from 1972 which sold around 100,000 records. The fiddle was played by Masahiro Takekawa（武川雅寛）, a member of the band Moonriders as Endo quietly intones his love for the dish.
Up to now, I've had various types of curry with rice or naan: Indian, Thai, Pakistani and Indonesian. However, in my early days, it was always about the Japanese style over the rice thanks to those S&B cubes or powder. It was spicy to be sure but not fiery.
How about some of those other foodie kayo?
1. Akiko Yano -- Ramen Tabetai (1984)
COVID-19 has meant that access to those ramen restaurants here in Toronto has plummeted to zero for me since I don't live anywhere near one, although I still have my Cup Noodles and Sapporo Ichiban options. Until the restaurants are back up and running for dine-in service, I will be happy enough getting my aural version with the cool and funky Yano（矢野顕子）song.
2. Mariya Takeuchi -- Fushigi na Peach Pie (1980)
"Fushigi na Peach Pie"（不思議なピーチパイ）is as young and adorable as Mariya Takeuchi（竹内まりや）was back in those early days, and as the original article indicates, this was a song that was only performed by Mariya with Kazumi Yasui（安井かずみ）and Kazuhiko Kato（加藤和彦）doing the songwriting duties here. I've had peach pie before and it's fine although a bit tart. But I still prefer my apple pie over anything else in that category.
3. Masatoshi Hamada & Noriyuki Makihara -- Chicken Rice (2004)
Never thought that I would actually hear a song paying tribute to the classic yoshoku dish, but Noriyuki Makihara（槇原敬之）pulled it off and had good buddy, comedian Masatoshi Hamada（浜田雅功）, pair up with him to perform this folksy number. I've had chicken rice on its own before but usually it is the majority component for the bigger dish of rice omelette when it's buried under a carpet of creamy beaten egg slid from a hot frying pan.
4. Masato Shimon -- Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun (1975) from 1:56
In the attempts to be perfectly transparent here, I don't think I ever dove into taiyaki all that much during my years in Japan. I mean, anko is splendid and all that, but I can't really say that it was a go-to sweet for me. But obviously, I was very much in the minority in the country, and Shimon's（子門真人）famous "Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun"（およげ！たいやきくん）may still be the biggest selling single of all time. You might want to check the Guinness Book of World Records, though.
5. Kirinji -- Pizza VS. Hamburger (2019)
Man! Do I really have to choose? Just glad that the title wasn't "Pizza VS. Hamburger VS. Hot Dog VS. Ramen". Kirinji（キリンジ）apparently wanted to make this somewhat humorous track from their 2019 "cherish" a walk into the gastronomic version of "The Twilight Zone" where someone like William Shatner or Jack Klugman has to make that impossible decision between comfort foods. Still, the musical path is a fun one to take.
6. Rina Sato & Asuka Ohgame -- Egao ni Naru (2015)
Had to throw in an anison since I believe that the anime industry has also been a frequent purveyor of foodie-ism over the years. And one such show that gave new meaning to the words foodie porn is "Koufuku Graffiti"（幸福グラフィティー）which I'll be wrapping up viewing for the umpteenth time later tonight. All of the performed songs are great concoctions but I have an especial affinity for the ending theme "Egao ni Naru"（笑顔になる）because of its addressing of all of the scrumptious dishes in the lyrics and the sunny Bacharach-esque arrangement.
I know that I've left at least one other food-based tune out of the list and there are probably quite a lot of other such songs, but the above is my reflection. If any of you readers out there have your own choices, please let me know.