A white tent, lit up like a lantern in the midst of a field darkened by night. A gathering of diverse souls; a musician, a hippie, a film director, all seated on the floor about a low, round dinner table. It could be anywhere (well no, not really, that whole tent thing is kind of crazy). But then, an exquisite dish is passed around, to the delight of the bohos gathered. It’s transcendent! It’s fresh! It’s radishes and strawberries. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
But we are in the midst of a beautiful film about Japanese food culture -- Eatrip, which has its US premiere at New People’s Viz Cinema Sat/10 through Thur/15.
Here’s why I’m stoked; I know that outside my window the San Franciscan sun is shining down -- but fellow Americans, believe you me when I say it’s raining. I’m talking about the deluge of knowledge our well meaning Information Age has hoisted on us regarding the tragedy of food in America. We’re fat, we eat processed shit, our system’s fucked. On and on. Where Eatrip triumphs is not only it’s beautiful, colorful food pornography (mixing grains and water in a big wooden bowl never looked so good), but rather its examination of somebody else’s relationship to what they eat. It's a chance to look out from underneath our umbrellas to other weather systems.
Sure, many of the eaters that director Yuri Nomura profiled are perhaps exceptional, most with one foot (at least) in the ethereal. One of her most lyrical sequences follows a woman around her cabin in the mountains, where she lives and prepares food with her children to feel closer to the earth. A Japanese back-to-lander? And why ever not? There’s also a monk featured, whose thoughts on food as one of life’s great pleasures might come as a surprise to folks familiar with the “eschewing worldly delights” view of meditative monkdom.
So how are we to relate this pastoral view of diet to Japanese culture as a whole? Does Eatrip reflect a country’s whose style of eating is more conscious and slow, or are these individuals outliers to the madness, a la Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Food, Inc.? We can ask him ourselves at the movie’s first showing this Saturday, when Nomura will be on hand for the showing and “food and talk party” with Mishima Brackett, former creative director at Chez Panisse.
In the meantime… strawberries and radishes… I could get down with that.
Eatrip US premiere & reception
w/ director Yuri Nomura
Sat/10 7 p.m., $50 ($10 for regular screenings)
Viz Cinema @ New People
1746 Post, SF