Oishinbo by Tetsu, Kariya

Love affairs sometimes happen fortuitously. Take mine with Tetsu Kariya’s “Oishinbo.” I only noticed the series because they were laid out with covers facing outward unlike the rest of the mangas in the shelves battling out for attention with their spines. My attention was not caught because of the unique artistry on the cover but because the titles simply read “Vegetables” and “Sake” accompanied by panels of food images. I flipped them over, saw the promise of “a fascinating, addictive journey through the world of cooking and food culture” and out came my credit card.

I immediately pored over the books and fell in love not so much with the stories but with its concept of presenting the Japanese food culture through comics and comically. What is more amazing, the series dates back to the 1980s when the word “foodie” was not yet in vogue.

With its trivia gems on food, cooking and even farming, “Oishinbo” proves comic books can be more than just entertaining, but they can also be, dare I say it, educational?

– Elizabeth

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