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Sugalabo

Simon and Martina, with the help of the very-talented Dan, have made an outstanding video about a chef in Tokyo, who has an incredible respect and interest in local ingredients and regional cultures.

I’d love to know how they got to join him in Ehime. Just start watching and see what you think. Would you want to try dinner at Sugalabo? I wonder how much that costs.

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Kings of Pastry

kingsofpastry1

The epitome of achievement in the world of French pastry is the M.O.F., a pastry chef who’s merited the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France). The documentary The Kings of Pastry takes viewers into the world of the intense competition. MOF chefs receive a red, white and blue collar and a medal from the president of France.

The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, as he vies for the supreme honor. We see Pfeiffer and two other chefs preparing and competing. They must create a wedding cake, sugar sculpture, buffet of pastries under strict rules in three days.

The film is engrossing as it goes deeper than the average TV cooking competition and really examines the passion and craftsmanship of the pastry world. It did make me crave some delectable, sophisticated treats so you’ve been warned.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

It looks so simple

Jiro Dreams of Sushi delights as it presents the story of a sushi master par excellence. Like Bill Cunningham: NY, this documentary gives us a glimpse of a man whose a master in his field and finds great joy in his art. Jiro is 82 and has a small, unassuming sushi restaurant in a mall that seems to be part of the subway pedway in Tokyo. You would not expect this to be a 3 star Michelin restaurant. It’s maintained that elite status for years.

Jiro and his two sons will make anyone appreciate sushi, even folks like me who don’t particularly like fish. He works so hard at making his food perfect. He’s probably the only chef who insists his apprentices massage octopus for 50 minutes so that it’s perfectly tender. Some may find this sexist, but he gives women smaller portions so that both male and female diners finish eating their sushi at the same time. Evidently, he’s noticed that women would take longer to eat the same size sushi as a man.

I found each moment of Jiro Dreams of Sushi mesmerizing. His description of his childhood and getting kicked out of the house to fend for himself at age 7 or so, his reunion with old classmates, the trips to the fish market – it was such a joy to watch Jiro delight in his work.

Outnumbered

Cast of Outnumbered

The most hilarious, smart sitcom I’ve seen in a long time is the BBC’s Outnumbered. Each week the parents Pete and Sue valiantly try to survive the chaos inherent in raising precocious children: Jake, Ben and Karen. The plots are loose and the dialog brilliant. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, much of the dialog is improvised, which is probably why what the kids say seems so real, unlike the average show where the jokes are clearly written by 27 year olds and mouthed by 7 year olds.

I’ve just seen six episodes and the main thread is that the father, a secondary school history teacher, bumbles his way around the disaster he created by making a joke at the expense of one of his heavier students. Sue is a stay at home mom, who’s often overwhelmed, but never comes across as the nincompoop say the mom in Modern Family can be. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because Sue’s smart kids often do have a good point when they argue, whereas the Modern Family kids are clearly reading from a script.

A few realistic, serious problems are woven into the series. Pete’s worried that Jake is a victim of bullying. The issue’s handled better than it would be on many sitcoms. Like in real life, Pete tries to open lines of communication, Jake denies there’s a problem. Then at the end of an episode, once you believe Jake, you see him washing his hands and his forearms are badly bruised. Another issue is caring for an elderly parent in decline. Sue has been the local go-to person for her father while her sister galavants. The sister returns and the relationship is rocky. Sue’s glad for the relief, yet has to hide her jealousy that Angela, her sister succeeds with the father – at first. So as in real life competing feelings exist in one person.

The dialog is brilliant. Take a look:

[youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRhIZCDk0Eo%5D

Karen with a nurse

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