Fluffy Unicorn thought we should get some culture this past Memorial Day weekend. What the heck? I’m a food writer…I don’t think I do culture. What if it gets all over me and leaves a stain or something? But, what Fluffy Unicorn wants, she gets.
I can’t tell you how delighted I was, after doing a little bit of research, to find A Tokyo Fish Story, an “in the round” theatre production showing at the Old Globe in Balboa Park that focuses on one of our favorite topics…food. Winner, winnner!
The set for the play is a well known, but slowly dying, sushi restaurant in Tokyo named Sushi Koji.
Koji is a master sushi chef and a defender of the tradition of his art and craft…as he should be. Without tradition, the foundation upon which we build everything we do today… without its maintenance and care, where is the substance and longevity of what we create? The only reason we, who consider ourselves the trailblazers of the modern era, have the luxury of thinking “outside the box” is because of those who built the box. Without a deep and appreciative understanding of the basics, the hard learned lessons bequeathed us by the pioneers who cut the paths we follow, all that we accomplish will be nothing more than paper walls, providing the illusion of stability and comfort, but with no real strength or integrity.
It’s a weighty and thankless burden that Master Koji carries.
His protege, Takashi, is a disciple of both Koji’s and the traditional way of doing things that Koji represents. But as the heir apparent to the Sushi Koji, he faces the reality that without at least a nod to current convention, tradition will be lost to extinction. He is torn between a devotion to his mentor and the customs by which he has plied his art for so long and the need to attract business in an industry where substance has given way to promotional gimmicks.
There are side stories dealing with the millennial influence on today’s dining culture, dwindling fish populations and food sources, restaurant economics and women in the kitchen that are relevant to the story line and open a deeper discussion of the deeply rooted traditions and stereotypes of professional cooking and the restaurant industry in general.
Here’s the Rundown on A Tokyo Fish Story:
A Tokyo Fish Story has elements of rawness wrapped within a cocoon of disparate and conflicting generational viewpoints. It evokes emotions that run a wide gamut. It is laugh out loud, clench your fist and a little bit of scratch your head wrapped together and delivered in continuous, incoming waves. The pace is rapid without being harried and the dialogue is thought provoking. The five actor cast was engaging and versatile, telling a story that is vital to our food future while reminding us of how we got here in the first place.