January 11, 2019

Food for Thought

My sister gave me this cup. I would imagine that it’s expensive. For a long time, I could not figure out what it’s for, but it’s a perfect size and shape for saké, so I decided to use it for that. For some reason, it is customary to let the saké overflow when serving, so, you’d need something to catch the excess. A short glass and a saucer are a common combination. Instead of a saucer, you might also see a wooden box.

As I was drinking this cup of saké tonight, I noticed a small label on the box that the cup came in; it said “dessert set.” This explains why it came with a tiny wooden spoon. So, I tried serving ice cream with it. (Swipe to see.) The Japanese culture is not known for excess. Overpouring of saké is a rare moment where excess is enjoyed in Japan. Using this small cup to serve sweets is not going to work in America. It looks like a serving for a Barbie doll. (I had to serve myself the ice cream 3 times.) Americans know how to enjoy a surplus. The whole point of Thanksgiving, for instance, is to enjoy the surplus. You cannot just cook enough. If there is no leftover, it would ruin the spirit of Thanksgiving.

In my family, if we buy anything close to Christmas, we wrap it and put it under the tree even if it’s a mundane, everyday object. We call it “surplus enjoyment.” For the same amount of money spent, we get to enjoy the wrapping and unwrapping of it.

Human desire is fundamentally unsatisfiable. Excess is our desperate attempt to circumvent this impossibility. Although it doesn’t work, we can pretend as though it does. That’s the “surplus enjoyment.” #漆器 #日本酒 #japanesecup #japanesefood #icecream #sake #nycfoodie #lacquerware #excess #surplusenjoyment