Hand Shaking


Japanese TV has a lot of cooking (and dining) shows. When I said this to a former student, her immediate reply was, “Yes! Too many!” The difference in meaning between ‘too’ and ‘so’ is not well understood here, but I think this student knew exactly what she was saying. Anyhow, this story is about food modeling.

After some delicious dish has been prepared (or served) it must be displayed on screen for the audience to enjoy. Chopsticks, being an extension of the fingers, create an intimate involvement with the food. Western cooking shows often just show the beautiful food, but Japanese programs almost always show a close-up of a hand holding up some of the food with chopsticks. Sometimes the food is rotated around slowly, often it is more than should reasonably be shoved into the mouth, but it is always shaking.

My first few chances to observe this left me with the impression that I should seek a career in food modeling because I can hold chopsticks quite steadily. Several months ago this all changed when I saw a program that explained proper food modeling. The final key point was that the food should be shaking in the video. Perhaps they explained why this made the food look more tasty, but I didn’t catch that.

Many times I have observed things in Japan and had a mistaken impression about what was going on. It is always cool when I figure out the real reason, but it can also be a little depressing because it makes me wonder how little I know. Certainly I am making many cultural mistakes based on my misunderstandings.


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