BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

what did you eat yesterday? (vols. 4-5) by Fumi Yoshinaga, edited by Yoshito Hinton (vol. 4), translated by Yoshito Hinton (vol. 5)

What Did You Eat Yesterday 4-5If you want to get to know gorgeous button-downed lawyer Shiro and adorable dressed-down hair stylist Kenji, click here to catch up on all the previous volumes. If you’re looking for quick satiety, you could definitely start with any volume (yes, these could be read out of order) … but know that you’ll just get hungrier for more, so you might as well save yourself some unnecessary confusion and get your hands on Volume 1 right now.

Volume 4 opens with the sometimes uncomfortable challenges of being a cosmopolitan gay Tokyo couple in public which, after all these years, Shiro still finds difficult. He’s not one to hold hands or talk about certain things (food, interior design, clothes) at gatherings because he’s “always worrying that people will think [he]’s gay.” His anger at himself for “being such a wuss” sometimes gets misdirected at the more affable, openly affectionate Kenji which adds further regret and self-recrimination to Shiro’s conscience. Ever the thoughtful boyfriend, Kenji attempts to assuage Shiro’s anxieties by suggesting they socialize at home: “… eating out causes you all sorts of headaches, so instead [friends are] coming over to our place next Friday for a dinner party.” Of course, Shiro’s culinary pride feels challenged, but the gathering turns out to be quite a productive affair.

Kenji, too, gets his day in the kitchen, delightedly taking care of Shiro when he takes a sick day. He’s also cast in the role of sounding board to his less-than-responsible boss. Shiro is offered a chance to grace the little screen, then has his turn at being all ears to his boss. Meanwhile, the mostly-happy couple get to feast on caramel-simmered apples on toast, sweet potato and fried tofu miso soup, hot soba, ginger pork, shrimp and turnips in rich sauce, and always so much more. Kenji is a master at creating tempting abundance on a budget.

Kenji faces yet another challenging social situation as volume 5 opens: while at his friend Kayoko’s house and sharing her bounty of cabbage, her husband arrives with a group of his tennis buddies, including a certain Mr. Kohinata. “I thought you guys might get along being both gay,” the husband heartily announces. Awkward much? But friendships can grow from the strangest situations. Weddings and rings become an issue – don’t make assumptions. And another new year gets celebrated, this time with quite the surprising revelations from Kenji’s never-too-late-to-be-astute parents. Next year is definitely going to be different.

In between, the dinner table is laden with such toothsome fare as tomato-stewed chicken, horse mackerel tataki, tonkatsu, pork and chikuwa chop suey, and even banana pound cake. Wouldn’t you love to be invited over even just for leftovers?

Beyond the delectable table, what creator Fumiko Yoshinaga does best from volume to volume is share the everyday challenges of two rather different men in love (because opposites really do attract), who share a home, have experiences apart but share their lives together, not to mention consume what seems to be more than their fair share (jealously hungry? me?) of many, many exquisite meals. The series undoubtedly highlights the food, but the people who create and enjoy the culinary creations are what make the meals most memorable. Shiro and Kenji – and their friends, family, their tiffs, hopes, disappointments, celebrations, and more – will linger long after all the dishes have been cleared. Appreciative burping allowed, hee hee ho ho!


Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2007 (Japan), 2014 (United States)



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