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ニッケイ物語 #11—いただきます3! ニッケイの食と家族、そしてコミュニティ

Food for Thought—TikTok & Tamagoyaki

Like any good Gen Z-er, I’ve made my fair share of TikToks since I first downloaded the app two years ago. Most are silly and trivial and recorded primarily for my “impressive” following of 45 followers—the majority being school friends. 

Although it pales in comparison to the millions and even billions of views that top users (often dubbed “Content Creators”) regularly receive, the most popular TikTok that I ever made was, interestingly enough, a minute-long video of my dad and me making tamagoyaki.

By the time I eventually privated it, the video had only received a little under 2,000 views. But, despite its relatively low viewership, people certainly did not shy away from commenting or replying to discussions.

“I love tamagoyaki my mom makes em all the time! i recommend adding green onions and some ham tho, it makes it so good,” one comment, in true Internet grammatical fashion, warmly suggests.

“This looks so amazing!! I’ve never seen something cooked like that,” another says.

But the comment that piqued my attention the most wasn’t one of excitement or shared interest. It wasn’t even particularly malicious or unkind. “I could never eat my eggs that runny,” it simply read. 

I wouldn’t have even given it much more than two seconds of thought if it wasn’t something I had seen before on other Japanese food content. 

Of course, it goes without saying that people are allowed to have their own culinary preferences. I’m no sekihan superfan, and nattō is edible but not particularly crave-worthy in my book. Still, there’s something irksome, something that rubs the wrong way about these kinds of comments. At the very least, they’re bothersome enough for me to make note of their character and frequency.

“That’s not fluffy, that’s raw,” said one commenter on a video of a chef preparing omurice.

“Raw egg nooo nooo,” and “ABSOLUTELY NOT,” read another two comments on two separate videos on how to make tamago kake gohan. Even sushi, one of Japan’s most mainstream and celebrity dishes, is still fair game for snide remarks.

Comments of this nature are also not exclusive to Japanese food by any means. Unfortunately, Asian cooking as a whole seems to be a magnet for this type of attention and can range from snarky to downright racist. 

“Looks awful,” and “I just know that’s bland as hell” are two comments left on a tutorial showing how to make Filipino arroz caldo, a chicken and rice porridge.

“This how Covid started,” says a comment left on a video of a man eating jokbal, a Korean braised pig’s trotter dish.

The Internet breeds a new brand of malice—one that can be typed yet not uttered. Behind the screen, people are presented with the freedom to morph into anonymous beasts under the guise of made-up usernames or hidden IP addresses.

And for Asian and Asian diaspora creators, sharing cultural food online can attract insensitive and persistent commenters, their words an amplified echo of school lunchroom teasings, raised eyebrows, and pinched noses.

However, I’d like to note that social media is inherently paradoxical. The comment sections of the aforementioned videos were all overwhelmingly flooded with kind, encouraging remarks. 

Even initially mean-spirited comments later found their replies flooded with reprimanding and corrective remarks. In fact, more often than not, commenters were more than eager to defend a dish’s cultural significance—even if they weren’t a part of that culture themselves.

To my own tamagoyaki TikTok and its accompanying “I could never eat my eggs that runny,” a commenter was kind enough to explain to them that “it gets cooked in the process, it’s runny at the start so that they can stick together.”

Social media platforms are cruel—a characteristic that’s come to be nearly expected the moment anonymity becomes an option. From cyberbullying to doxxing to death threats, the cyber world reeks of digital toxicity. 

But those kind comments still shine through, and suddenly it’s not all so black-or-white anymore. 

“This looks so amazing!! I’ve never seen something cooked like that.” I read the comment once more. And I get warm and fuzzy all over again.

 

*This article was originally published on the Rafu Shimpo on June 4, 2022

 

© 2022 Kyra Karatsu / Rafu Shimpo

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このシリーズについて

「いただきます3!」への投稿は、9月30日で締め切りました。投稿いただいた皆さん、どうもありがとうございました!

「いただきます3!」シリーズへの投稿作品を読み、ニマ会コミュニティのお気に入り作品の選択にご協力ください。

投票の最終日は10月31日です。

好評につき、「ニッケイ物語」シリーズ第11弾では、再び「いただきます3! ニッケイの食と家族、そしてコミュニティ」のテーマでお届けします。ぜひ、皆さんのニッケイの食に関する個人的なストーリー、エッセイ、回想録、論文、レストラン評そのほかの散文を投稿してください。ニッケイ人は、自分たちの日本食を作るため、どのようにして地元の食材や調理方法、農業や風味を取り込んできたのでしょうか。私たちは特に、皆さんのお気に入りのレシピの背景にある、ニッケイの家族やコミュニティの物語を共有することに関心を持っています。

ガイドラインと募集基準に従ってお送りいただいたすべての作品は、6月より順次ディスカバー・ニッケイのジャーナルコーナー「いただきます3!」に掲載されます。投稿期日は、2022年9月30日(金)18時(PDT)です。

詳しくは、5dn.org/itadakimasu3-jaをご覧ください。

*「いただきます3! ニッケイの食と家族、そしてコミュニティ」シリーズは、下記の団体の協力をもって行われています。 

     

     

 

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