Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Crab Season!

The Japanese love their food shows. Celebrities interview other celebrities over coffee and cake. Comedians interview pop stars over full course meals while trying to guess which course is the food they hate the most. SMAP, arguably Japan's most famous pop group, has a show where they make gourmet meals, with their famous guests being interviewed while the band is cooking (gotta be fair here - the food is really high-brow, and the cookbooks sell like crazy).

Now, I have to admit to a guilty little secret: I liked "Iron Chefs". It was a TV show where 1 of 3 famous chefs and their crew would be pitted against a challenger crew each week to make a complete meal, including dessert, using that day's surprise ingredient (Iron Chefs America is on the Food Network). I always got a kick out of trying to figure out just what kind of dessert they could make when that day's ingredient was something like oysters or abalone - "Oh, look, he just made gelato using oyster juice!" Eewww! I just knew that there was no way I'd try it.

Well, crab season is here, and it's all over the television, with a twist. Reporters and 'talents' (TV personalities, who often lack any significant talent whatsoever) head out to the hot spots on the Japan Sea coast to sample the fresh catch, and the audience, along with a panel of other TV personalities, oohs and aahs.

Look, here are the new crabs: "Waaoooh!"
Look, this one is cooked: "Waaaoooooohhhh!"
Look, the TV guy is eating it: "Waaaaaaoooooooohhhhhh!"
And look, here are the brains: "WAAOOOOHHHH!"

I could understand it, if the people in the studio were actually looking forward to eating the crabs, like in "Iron Chefs" (see, tied it together after all!). But they're watching a video of someone else eating it - who usually shovels in a huge mouthful of boiling hot food, then immediately tries to talk around it to tell you just how delicious that piping hot mouthful that he/she hasn't even tasted yet is, which sucking in air like an Electrolux in a futile attempt to cool their tongues. "Gobble-hoover-yum-smack-my!"

Sometimes they're lucky not to spray food all over the camera, which has come in for a closeup of their face contorted in fake rapture and pain. "Waoohh"? Maybe. More like 'see food' than 'sea food'. But shouting and getting all excited and studio panel members smiling and standing up and gesturing wildly?

Stranger in a Strange Land, indeed.

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