The other day I was half-watching a segment on CNN about the newly designated world heritage status of Neapolitan pizza. They had invited a chef to come on the show and demonstrate how to make a pizza. The hosts of the show kept pushing him to spin the dough in the air, repeating the “fact” that this is what made Neapolitan pizza so special and worthy of the world heritage status. But the chef kept saying, “We don’t do this in Naples.” He explained that they do “flip” the dough on the counter, but that the in-air spinning wasn’t a Neapolitan tradition. It was funny (depressing, really) to watch this lack of communication happen.
Anyway, it made me think about how annoying CNN is these days. Everything is “Breaking News” even if they’re repeating the same story for the 10th time. And they play the same commercials about a million times an hour. The latest is the Morgan Freeman one for Turkish airlines, which was replayed — I’m not joking — 6 times in the hour I had CNN on. I call it CMN (commercial network). I know certain world leaders criticize CNN and other media for being “fake news” and I don’t want to perpetuate that, but I do wish they’d make it easier to like and support them.
As for world heritage food cultures, it was four years ago that washoku was given world heritage status. Time flies.
This YouTube channel may not give you much language input, but it’s a good example of the demonstration task and you could try adding English explanations to one of these videos, or try making your own.
I sometimes visit family in Portland, Oregon, where street food is very popular. My favorite is Nong’s Khao Man Gai.
And this is a favorite memory, from a trip to Enoshima (and the cat waiting for leftovers)
What’s your favorite street food story?
This instructional video about how to store and make tea is from 1941. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be funny, but 76 years later, it’s hard not to laugh. And so many questions and things to notice! (See some of my questions below the video. Can you make your own?)
- Did people really keep huge boxfuls of tea at home?
- The expert talks about soft water. I wonder if water has changed since 1941, and if water in London is harder or softer than water in Tokyo. And I wonder what the quality of tap water was in London in 1941. What would they think of today’s Brita filters and the like?
- Wasn’t it painful to hold that beaker as he poured in boiling water?
- Can you spot the mistakes in the subtitles (for example, “tea leaves” sometimes becomes “keely” and “really” becomes “merely” and “tea instructor” becomes “team structure”)
You could try a more modern demonstration for your portfolio task. Make an explainer video about how to make a good cup of tea
(from Open Culture, where you can find the rules written out for you)
This video suggests we might try something new for Thanksgiving dinners: instead of the traditional turkey, why not eel?
It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but maybe the point is to rethink our stubborn adherence to certain traditions. My family in the U.S. laughed when I told them that on Thanksgiving, I was watching sumo and eating dried squid jerky (するめ).
Here in Japan, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, though we do have a holiday with a similar name at around the same time. What I suggest is moving away from the “traditional” chicken I see EVERYWHERE on December 24th and 25th here, and try some eel. Or tempura. Or oysters. Or curry. Or anything except that ubiquitous chicken.