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Say No to Good Taste

Azami and Erina on cover of Food Wars, Volume 16

For many of us growing up, we’ve got a chance to enjoy a variety of food from our families despite being fed items (ie. green vegetables) that may not appeal to our taste buds. However, as what I’m about to discuss, there are families that indeed try to impart an ideal on what food should be all about. In Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, a major threat to the Totsuki Culinary Academy has appeared to enforce his cruel principles on how food should be served and fed to the masses. Azami Nakiri, father of Soma Yukihira’s rival, Erina Nakiri, is an example of how much power a parent has over the eating habits of their children.

Azami shows up around Volume 15 of the story and becomes the new headmaster of Totsuki. He believes the cooking world lacks the flair that the one person he admired showed off with his dishes. To do so, Azami weeds out school clubs and students that disgust him and oppose his philosophy. He worships the cooking of Soma’s father, Joichiro Yukihira, and uses that to justify his actions. Azami takes the time to raise Erina and turn her into a very picky eater. Erina becomes known around Totsuki as having the “God’s Tongue,” where her sense of taste has become great to the point that it takes a dish made from the heavens to possibly please her. However, she shows that she does like dishes that aren’t grand or special, but Azami’s training prevents her from opening up in fear of getting his disapproval. 

I first talked about Shokugeki no Soma when it was in its early arcs and loved how it focused on the importance of food in relationships. Food bonds us, yet it can hurt us as well. Sometimes, we get taught that eating a certain type of food is the way to go. We can’t live without it. That gets drilled into our heads and it sticks. We see our families eat items that may not be healthy and think that it’s okay to consume a good amount of them since it makes them feel good inside. There are people out there that try to prey on insecurities about diet as well. What’s the point of eating if we have to be scared of almost every little problem found in the food we like?

While reading the manga, I learned about mindful eating. It’s a process that involves eating food and enjoying it right then and there. You don’t think about the previous meal or the next one, only this one. It was revealed that Erina met Joichiro as a young child and found out how amazing cooking can be. Their chance meeting led her to believe that food should be fun to make. This was was in contrast to her being taught to eat food in a “factory test” manner where it’s either approved or thrown away. She admits that she has an internal conflict on which adult male role model’s way of thinking she admires – Azami’s or Joichiro’s. 

There’s a good number of eaters out that may be confused like Erina and are unsure of how to best live a life where they can enjoy food without worry. It’s true that there are certain types of food one can never eat (i.e. nut and dairy allergies) – but it’s not the end. You can still go on. Food shouldn’t be treated as an enemy. The real enemy that not many people get is the thought process behind that thinking. It’s why diets will fail a lot because one never gets to feel relaxed and make the right kind of decisions about what to eat. 

I’ve had my share of eating issues over the years and I decided to take a stand despite any disagreement with my family because I want to take care of myself better and know that eating responsibly will benefit me in the long-run. However, I learned that I need to just enjoy everything (within limits) once in a while and not expect perfection because it’s unnecessary stress I impose on myself. 

After all, it’s people who start food wars, not the food itself.

SOURCE: Manga Therapy – Where Psychology & Manga Meet – Read entire story here.