Cooking Up Fake Food in Japan

Humans are gifted with five senses. Of course, some have a sixth sense too. But we aren’t inclined to go there. For now, we will stick to the more gluttonous instincts. The one we intend to talk about here is the sense of sight. The Japanese especially believe that we first feast with our eyes. Hence, it is important for them to doll up their food to make it visually appealing. That does have logic though. A table set with food that is so appealing can work as an appetizer setting the tone for the rest of the meal. Ask any chef from the star-rated restaurants, they’ll tell you as much. It’s not important to just cook a great tasting meal, but to present it equally well so as not to end up a damp squib. Not for nothing do they mention, “Not to be eaten”. They are considered a pursuit of artistic passion and given a space equal to that of calligraphy or Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement). 

Work up your imagination. Get your hands on those food items made of plastic to look like they were real. Most of these faux foods have been cooked to perfection. Only not in the kitchen, but in the studio or the lab.

A regular fixture at the restaurants in Japan, these plastic displays of fake food gives you a whiff of what’s in store inside. A big help if you don’t know, can’t read Japanese. Faux food looks good, lifts your mood too if you are a die-hard foodie. Well, since you can carry them around as zip pullers, iphone cases, you literally have food hanging round you, round the clock. On the flip side, it could make matters worse, since you would constantly be hungry and craving food making you fatter, not fitter.

For all you know, it could be the devil in the detail. Ask the artist behind those artworks. If your folks want the yolks runny on the sunny side up, that could require some extra work. While the real stuff may cost you just a few bucks, the faux food sample will drain you by more than double of that. But, then this is art. And some of these fake food items qualify as collector’s item. For a visitor, they could serve as souvenirs to collect and gift when they return home.

Back in the early days, the plastic food was actually made of wax. But wax when subjected to heat, melts, loses color. In addition, wax had little texture to boast of. More recent versions use polyvinyl chloride. These are made to last a lifetime. While that’s good for restaurants doing brisk business, it spells doom for plastic manufacturers and the artisans alike. The slump in the economy has hurt them too. They have found ways to circumvent the dwindling business by diversifying into gift-making and including workshops that teach fake food manufacturing, all by hand. If you are a foodie and you appreciate the creative juice flowing in Japanese shores, lend a hand by visiting fakefoodjapan.