Author: hughvf

Christian who's also a Digital Media student. This site was created to as part of my degree, but will hopefully grow to be more than that.

Mongolian Beef

Here’s that video I promised all of you.

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Asian Food Revisited: Is it as simple as that?

In my previous post, I was looking into food and how it has influenced my life. In this blog, I’ll be analysing my previous blog post to see how well I properly understand Asian food culture; Spoilers. It’s not very much.
It’s interesting that despite my cultural upbringing, with an open minded mother (at the very least about food), that I have so many dishes that I haven’t tried, or dislike for some reason or another. I noted that my girlfriend described me as picky, but just the other week when we were out with friends for dinner, I was able to back up all my reasons for disliking certain foods. The truths for me in regards to liking food weren’t found in research, but an individual sense experienced when eating those foods.

“… scholars began illustrating how the “facts” and “truths” scientists “found” were inextricably tied to the vocabularies and paradigms the scientists used to represent them.” (Ellis et al)

You see, when I want something to be true, I can argue that it is true; and oftentimes, I’ll be able to convince the people around me that it’s true. Like if I say “I don’t like onion, I think it’s a bad food”, people will argue with me. However, if I follow that up with “It’s the soft-crunchy texture that I just don’t find appealing”, then people are much more open to my view, and some even agree (or at least agree that it is present, but they still enjoy onions).

But how in any way that this is going to shape my investigation going forward? Well, for starters, I’ll need a host of people to join me for my cooking adventure, kind of like a panel of judges. As well as this, another friend of mine who isn’t particularly good at cooking might be joining me for the adventure.

One element I really need to do is to compare my current Asian food experience with my experience of other foods, and how that differs. For example, I am quite a fan of Italian food, and as such, have quite the history with Italian food. I’ve even made lasagne and gnocchi! Although it was mainly my friends, I wasn’t very successful, but I was there!
This, coming from a guy who doesn’t cook is quite remarkable, as it shows that often we’ll do what we like even if we’re not very good at it. So, as I said in my last post I want to broaden my pallet. I want to try new things and get those new experiences.

Now, in the Ellis et al reading, it speaks of the personal narrative element of autoethnography as including the academic, research and personal aspects of their lives. I believe in my previous post that I was quite successful at the personal aspect, but my posts do lack a bit more of the research side. Going forward I will need to look more in depth at how the phenomenon of social eating has shaped and been shaped within Asian cultures. The previously included video is a good start, as it also looks into Idol culture, and how some people (Like “The Diva”) have been able to be successful with their food based livestreams.

And it’s interesting, because every time I delve into an aspect of Asian culture, I realise how interconnected they are. I thought that food would be an easy task, like make something for dinner and film it. But through researching the snack culture in places like Japan and South Korea, I realised that my Western views and expectations are countered there again! In Australia at least, snack packaging is pretty bland and straight to the point, with dark or simple colours, like the black and red of a Mars Bar, or the deep (copyrighted) purple of a Cadbury Dairy Milk© Milk Chocolate bar. But looking at Asian snacks, the insanely bright colours and funky fonts are completely different. So perhaps I’ll have a dessert section of my livestream/video where we try some snacks. We’ll see.

asian-snacks.jpg

Refrerences

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

The More We Know, (2014) ‘New South Korean Fad: Watch People Eat A LOT Online’, Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJJDtx5aD6Y

Tanaka, K. Umakoshi, T. Ichijima, A. ‘Iron Chef’, More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Chef

 

 

Asian Food and Me (They haven’t really mixed)

Who, Me?

My girlfriend calls me picky. I like to think that I just like what food I like. Apparently that’s picky.
I’m not a huge fan of onions, rice, chilli, curries (yes that’s apparently a lot of things), capsicum, celery, coriander, tofu, soup/stews (another big one, but I just don’t want my dinner to be wet), and I’m lactose intolerant. On top of that, I’m not really one to cook either. I can put together a mean slice of toast, or make a salad (if it’s already in a bag), but that’s about it. This leads to issues when we’re trying to decide what we should do for dinner.

I started this subject not exactly knowing what it was about, and as it progressed I realised that that seems to be a core aspect of this subject. Apparently, for me, this subject has become about food. While I am a fan of sushi (or sashimi. To be honest I’m not sure which is which), I tend to steer clear of Asian dishes. I can’t tell you the difference between a pad Thai, a stir fry, a jungle curry, or anything like that. I just stay away. This is starkly contrasted by my family, who love Asian food.

The Plan

But no more! I plan to change two things.

  1. I want to learn how to cook. Not just Asian food, but I figure, for this subject, that’s a good start.
  2. I want to be less picky about what food I consume based on taste preference.

So the best way to do this would probably be to look up the recipes, and start simple. Just make a small dish in the comfort of my home. That would be the best and easiest way, but that’s not how I want to do it.
I plan to start with some classic recipes and film it. Livestream it even, if I have the capabilities. I’m lucky that my family enjoy Asian food, as sourcing a lot of ingredients shouldn’t prove to challenging.

A friend of mine wants to do a similar thing (learn to cook), and so I’m planning on making it a bit of a competition, something like Iron Chef. Side note: Iron Chef may be, currently, my only known source of Asian food shows. There’s an interesting quote apparently at the start of Iron Chef; A title card, with a quote from famed French food author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first appears: “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” I think this is a pretty good philosophy to adopt going forward for my research plan, regardless of whether I chose to film or livestream.

I am aware of the growing attraction to livestreaming everyday activities, like playing games, or less commonly watching movies/shows (akin to Gogglebox), or eating food at degustation parties as part of so-called “Social Easting”. In China, Kuaishou is one such video sharing and live streaming service which has gained popularity.
My current personal experience with livestreaming comes from TwitchPlaysPokemon and very occasionally watching Youtubers I like play on Twitch, so I’m also not very in the know about this aspect either.

The More We Know published a short video looking into the phenomena of people eating online, and it’s interesting to note that they believe the reason this is so popular in Asian cultures is because of loneliness, and people not wanting to awkwardly eat alone.

All in all, this experience is going to be quite fresh for me, and as such I expect that there will be plenty of hiccups along the way, but I’m going to try to minimise this with more research to come.

References

The More We Know, (2014) ‘New South Korean Fad: Watch People Eat A LOT Online’, Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJJDtx5aD6Y

Autoethnography and Me

“…Scholars began recognizing that different kinds of people possess different assumptions about the world” (Ellis et al, 2011).
I believe that this is, at it’s core, what autoethnography aims to reveal.

When I first heard the word autoethnography I was excited. I’m a fan of etymology (the study of words and their roots) and as such I like to take apart words. I know auto refers to ones self or the ability to do things on their own, such as in autobiography and automobile. I also knew that ethnos refers to nations of groups of people, and that the –ography suffix is about the study of such things. So putting that together, autoethnography is about the study of the self, combined with/in the context of a group of people, or something like that.

Chris told us that it’s also a portmanteau of autobiography and ethnography, meaning we’ll be looking heavily at ourselves and using qualitative data to do our research. I find this particularly interesting as I’ve always been taught that “facts don’t care about your feelings”. While I like that phrase, I’m not sure I’ve ever fully believed it, as it’s pretty noticeable in the world that the world is full of assumptions and “rules” based upon how people react to certain elements.

I believe that autoethnography is about finding that personal reaction to another culture. It’s about studying the culture, not from afar with a telescope, or up close under a microscope, but by using your own eyes to really feel the culture.
I think autoethnographic research is going to be a welcome breathe of fresh air for me. Having hated Math in high school because it was too “there is only one answer”, yet also not enjoyed English because I had to pander to how the teacher wanted me to write, I think I’m going to enjoy expressing my own views and experiences, regardless of what is “right” or “wrong”.

Godzilla – The First Chapter

This week we looked at Gojira, a film from 1954 and the very first film in the Godzilla franchise. I should preface this by stating that this was my very first Godzilla film, yet I do have an understanding of the general premise of the kaiju style.

I grew up watching many of the classic cartoons of my generation; Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Yughioh and Digimon (And even Sailor Moon and Card Captors when my sisters were around), but there were also plenty of non-Japanese ‘toons, like Rugrats, Batman: The Animated Series, and many others. I had a healthy dose of shows to obsess over.
I also played video games, like the Nintendo 64 and Gameboy. I have particular memories of playing a broken Pokemon Red cartridge, which was unable to save. Basically, it was a permadeath runthrough of Pokemon, but I played it anyway, because I loved it.

However, even with all this exposure to Japanese digital, it took me a while to even realise that these products I consumed were from Japan. I grew up in Australia, and besides video games, tv shows and movies, I wasn’t exposed to heaps of foreign culture. I didn’t even leave the country until 2011, where I went to Europe.

Now, however, as a digital media student with an interest in film and TV, I always find it interesting to look back at classics; And Gojira is just that: A classic. So many modern tropes spawned from this film. We live tweeted the event, and it opened my eyes to even more of those aspects that I missed, like all the anti-war, and yet seemingly pro-military allusions.
Examples of the anti-war aspects are the clear comparisons between Gojira and the atomic bombs. The destructive power and lasting effects left behind by the monster show clear parallels between  the two bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima just nine years prior to this films release.
Yet, seemingly contrary to the films denotation of war, it has heavy aspects of supporting Japans military and defense forces. There’s an inspirational scene where, when all else is failing, they call in the military, and a military-arrives-from-all-angles montage breaks out.

All in all, Gojira was great to watch and commentate on because it gave context to a lot of the classic cliche’s that are prevalent in modern cinema television.