Thursday, 29 September 2011

In Praise of Miso Soup

Ok so this is a random subject for a blog, but bear with me its going somewhere...

So Miso Soup.

I love it! No really, I love it!  

So much so I was visiting (for the 2nd & last time) the 'At Home In Japan - Beyond the Minimal House' exhibition & I got to thinking about miso soup & sat in one the best reading spots in London & wrote this:
 My first experience of miso soup was a mere packet of instant soup from a supermarket in Chinatown. The large squares of seaweed unfurled in the steaming hot water & floated amidst the brown soup, slimy & delicious. That was it. I was hooked. 
It was sometime before I realised that there are so many variations on this soup that it would take me more than a lifetime to try them all. But what a challenge to try anyway.
My most recent try (of the instant kind that is) was a huge disappointment. Purchasing organic miso soup in pretentious Hoxton shops I should have known better....
Tempted by the promises on the beautifully designed, traditional/trendy box (a small one, this was concentrated) I had high hopes for the 5 sachets contained within. However, these hopes were dashed before I even tasted it. The dark brown liquid procured from adding hot water to the pulpy contents inside were no more interesting once hydrated. No seaweed to tantalise me, no little spring onion rings to float up to the top. Just brown opaque liquid. 
Nevertheless between this high & low there have been many joyous moments with miso.  

Ok, so I had time on my hands, but am a firm believer in noticing the smaller things in life that bring me happiness. 

You could say I'm a cheap date or just trying to be an optimist. Whatever the reason this got me to thinking....

The title of this blog is stolen from a great book I recently read, 'In Praise Of Shadows'. 

A classic, worth reading as it is very short, but all about the aesthetic of the dark in many ways. It delves into the nooks & crannies of Japanese culture both literally & metaphorically. 

In one chapter Tanizaki writes about the joy of laquerware & the way in which many bowls have gold decoration made to catch candlelight, not bright light. These are made to be enjoyed in the shadows. There is a subtlety in this idea almost alien to contemporary ideas of the clinical minimal interiors, painted white with white crockery & brightly coloured art on the walls to show off work to maximum effect.

So with this in mind I have started to look at the world a little differently. But of course always mindful of enjoying the quiet moments of beauty & reflection that can be found in the everyday. Here is a wonderful example of Japanese Christmas cheer to enjoy & revel in.

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