A timeless story told with a Japanese tongue and German wit

Now when they found a little brook leaping brightly over the stones, the brother was going to drink out of it, but the sister heard how it said as it ran, “Who drinks of me will be a tiger; who drinks of me will be a tiger.” Then the sister cried, “Pray, dear brother, do not drink, or you will become a wild beast, and tear me to pieces.” The brother did not drink, although he was so thirsty, but said, “I will wait for the next spring.”

–excerpt from “Brother and Sister,” from Grimms Fairy Tale courtesy of nationalgeographic.com

Fairy tales take place in forests.  Maybe because that’s where the fairies are. Or maybe because that’s where the secrets of the subconscious first make their appearance.

Nobuo - Tuna Tataki

Forests are moist and dimly lit. Plenty of shadows and teeth. Huntsmen. Woodsmen. Wolves. Red capes. This is where the Wild Man lives. And little children get lost.

Carl Jung gave us the metaphor of the mind when he described an iceberg. That which is airborne, that which is visible, is our consciousness. It lives above the waterline.

Subconsciousness dwells in the cold of the deep.

Nobuo - sign

Chef Nobuo Fukuda, at his namesake restaurant in Phoenix, evokes our subconscious mind with his own creativity. Like a long lost Japanese relative to Brothers Wilhelm and Jacob, Nobuo spins tales that are both fantastical and familiar.

He unearths delights like root vegetables and marries them with seafood.

Beets become a crimson sauce. Heady with the essence of Mother Earth and a reservoir of natural sugars and betalains. Lush and provocative. Thicker than paint. And silky on the tongue.

On these rouge waves surfs tuna tataki. Gingered up and seared on all sides. Cut thinly on the bias to reveal intense rose. Nobuo fans the fish across the length of the plate. He emphasizes both his design and his sense of irony with a squirt of balsamic syrup.

Cubed golden beets huddle in the center as a garnish.

On the palate, meat and vegetable tumble. Slight soy gives rise to uncooked umami. What was once a surprise combination, now becomes a lifelong pairing. How might we ever eat these apart again?

And while our bodies plant themselves in sea and soil, it is not lost how intellectual this dish is. It’s clearly a play on meat and potatoes.

Braised oxtail over mashed potatoes in a red wine sauce from Barlata

Braised oxtail over mashed potatoes in a red wine sauce from Barlata

Yet it speaks to our intuitive selves. A provocative a memory just out of reach. Built from ingredients that emerge just below the surface.

Which may the source of such gravitational pull. A chance to wander in the forest of thought. Without breadcrumbs to find our way back.

And fearless of any witch in the kitchen.

Well done, Nobuo. That you for taking us on a journey and not turning us into wild beasts along the way.

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