Food for Thought

Pop-up Detroit-style pizza by @serhan_ayhan at @bostonpizzagram. He mills his own flour for this. #respect. The crispy cheesy crust is packed full of flavor. It’s sort of like the crusty bottom of paella. The whole pizza looks beautiful. It’s truly a labor of love.

The Japanese word “kodawaru” (noun is “kodawari”) is variously translated but the closest English equivalent is to give a damn. Literally, it means to pay attention to detail, but it also implies that the motivation is intrinsic where virtue is its own reward. How Steve Jobs insisted on making the inside of his computers beautiful is a good example of kodawari. It’s not just about being passionate; it’s a passion for perfection.

Some people, for instance, are passionate about cooking because they love entertaining their friends. The ultimate payoff for them is everyone’s smile. Kodawari has a distinctly different connotation. Sure, it’s always nice to see your friends enjoy your meal but if you have kodawari, whether you are cooking for your friends or only for yourself makes no difference. The joy is in inching towards perfection, with the full awareness that there is no such thing as perfection. In fact, the last thing you’d want is to achieve perfection as it would end the fun.

Another common trait of people with kodawari is that they quickly transition from consumption to production. For instance, if they love video games, they quickly become dissatisfied with playing games created by others; they have to create their own. I’m sure @serhan_ayhan too quickly transitioned from eating other people’s pizza to making his own. People with kodawari cannot keep watching videos on YouTube; they have to produce their own.

I’ve noticed that this tendency manifests very early in childhood, so, if you know a college kid who plays video games all day and claims to want to be a videogame designer some day, it’s not likely that he ever will. If he has kodawari, he would have already done it by the time he is in college. The drive for kodawari is not something you can easily control. If you have it, it happens despite yourself. In this sense, it can be both a blessing and a curse.