Friday, January 27, 2012

A Discernable Taste

There's this scene in the epic novel "Musashi," somewhere within its 970 pages, where the young samurai, fresh from a bloody battle, is invited by an old ceramics master and his mother to sit down for tea in the middle of a field. Musashi is a bit disheveled in his trademark mass of hair sprouting wildly from his scalp, but he is only self-conscious about one thing: his lack of experience in the art of tea.

The master tells Musashi that one only need be genuine and honest and not be concerned with anything else, after which he asks the samurai to look at a pair of tea cups and discern which is more valuable. It is here that the master discovers another master, and thus begins a lifelong friendship between the two.

I've known many who've claimed such masterful skills — the ability to discern true quality over what is probably just good marketing — but have only met a small handful of them. You'll know them by what they recommend in the way of restaurants, clothing, bartenders, appliances, tools, knives, entertainment, markets, wines and, oddly enough, sushi.

It's one thing to know a good sushi or sashimi restaurant. It's quite another to know why it's good. Because when you know why it's good, a chef just might pay attention to you, not necessarily the other way around.

There's a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi that is coming to theatres in March that is sure to prove popular among local foodies and other aficionados, particularly of sushi but not necessarily so.

Here's Anthony Bourdain taking a sampling below.

I like Anthony Bourdain and I think he has this discerning characteristic that has been his trademark ever since he wrote his first essay critiquing the gourmet establishment.

As for me, I only wish I may become as trained in both vision and taste. Unfortunately, my sense of smell is still somewhat lacking, so I'm at a bit of a handicap, but maybe if my other senses can make up for it, I might have a fighting chance.

Man, sushi sure sounds good right about now. It is a Friday night, isn't it? Let's go get some, shall we? Shall I pick you up about 8?

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