Here's a reader-response question: Which "Iron Chef" do you prefer--the U.S. or the Japanese version--and why? (Also curious if you've never seen either, or don't like either, as long as you're willing to explain your position.)
We were watching one of the Japanese episodes earlier this week; the ingredient was black pig (or "black pork," as the episode title has it, but it's the animal that looks black because of its hair, not the meat itself). There was a lot to love about this episode. It began with a contrived nostalgic trip by Sakai to his hometown, leading up to a cooking challenge by a former schoolmate turned professional chef, which was clearly not elaborately set up in any way whatsoever, no sir. The cooking was quite fun, but I thought the funniest moment was during the tasting, when the male celebrity guest (whose name escapes me), who had been offering awkward commentary all the way through, at one point said, "I sweat a lot, so I don't usually like to eat pork." Our immediate reaction: WTF? On further thought, I realize that there is a lot of information about how certain kinds of foods affect health and bodily function, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda and the like; this isn't such a nonsequitur as we thought. But that hasn't stopped us from making jokes about it all week. "I got a bad haircut, so I don't want any coffee." I have an ingrown toenail, so I can't have white flour." "I'm nearsighted, so I don't like bell peppers."