Iron Chef: Battle Girls' Festival

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Theme Ingredient: None, really. Clams, kinda. All is explained later.
Iron Chef: Sakai
Challenger: Motohito Kondo, Master Chef, Hifumi, Kamakura
Remarks: Funniest. Battle. Ever. Comments based on Food Network October 15, 2000 airing of this battle.

Girls' Festival is a Japanese festival honoring, well, girls. That's about all I know about it except that it occurred on March 3 in 1998 (and I don't even know if it's a fixed date like Christmas or a floating one like American Thanksgiving).

The challenger was Motohito Kondo, Master Chef of Hifumi in Kamakura, a city described as 'an ancient seaside capital.' Kondo is a Tea Ceremony master and a sake sommelier (I didn't know there were sake sommeliers, but it makes sense), and was an especially good choice for this particular battle, since his daughter turned 11 on that day. He challenged IC French Hiroyuki Sakai, whom the show inexplicably continues to refer to as 'the Delacroix of French cuisine.' I see their point, but the expression doesn't parse. It'd make a lot more sense to me to refer to him as 'the Kurosawa of French cuisine.' But I digress.

Chairman Kaga revealed no theme ingredient per se, challenging the chefs to create dishes honoring Girls' Festival from whatever happened to be lying around Kitchen Stadium, stipulating only that clams were a 'must have' since clamshells symbolize chastity in Japanese culture (stop. stop right there.). Granted, that still gave the chefs plenty to work with, but Sakai did mention that working without a theme ingredient was harder for him than he expected.

Instead of the normal two guest commentators and two regular judges, there were actually three guest commentators: 17-year-old actress Yumi Adachi, actress Naomi Hosokawa (who also appeared in Battle Strawberry), and Yoko Akino (a semi-regular). The ever-cuddly Asako Kishi would join them for the judging. Fukui's take on this: "A collection of judges covering the whole spectrum from high school through middle age and beyond." Well, if they can spend an entire episode cracking on a challenger's marital problems, then I guess this is pretty mild by comparison.

The girls hazarded a guess that a blender full of milk, cream, sugar, and eggs would be made into ice cream. Gee, you can't put a thing past them. Adachi: "The ice cream is turning around and around!" Fukui, revealing a heretofore unknown pederastic side, asked Adachi if she knew what 'chastity' meant. She said she did but offered no details.

This reminds me of an R-rated joke, so scroll ahead a bit if that prospect bothers you.

A kid's walking home from school one day when he finds a pair of welders goggles on the sidewalk. He picks them up and continues walking, and before long a stranger pulls up next to him and offers him a ride home. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, the kid accepts.

"That's a neat pair of welding goggles you got there, kid."
"Say, kid, do you know what 'pederasty' means?"
"Do you know what 'sodomy' means?"
"Do you know what 'oral copulation' means?"
"Mister, I just found the goggles - I'm not a welder!"

Back to live action. Fukui sounded disappointed that Adachi didn't want to discuss chastity. He also noted that Ohta wasn't breaking in as much as usual. Ohta's explanation: "With today's guests, it's hard to get a word in edgewise."

'Ama-me' was described as "A recently introduced (whatever that means) vegetable from Okinawa." 'Hishi-mochi' is a stacked dish wrapped in foil and baked in a long, narrow pan, then cut into diamond shapes that look much like baklava.

    Challenger Kondo brought seven dishes to the table:
  1. Sake cocktail. A low-alcohol sake was used, and the cocktail was deemed acceptable for Adachi.
  2. Clam hors d'ouevre with soft roe and whitefish. Kishi quashed this one as being 'for adults.'
  3. Marinated clams and vegetables. I think this is where the ama-me appeared. Akino: "Here you have a chunky texture and a slippery texture." Stop. Stop right there.
  4. Girls' Festival stew with steamed rice cake. The rice cake was tri-colored: reddish pink, white, and brown, and it looked very much like Neapolitan ice cream. The different colors signify something that I couldn't write down fast enough.
  5. Salmon grilled with sake. This was his main course. All the panelists thought the dish was too heavily herbed.
  6. Abalone rice.
  7. Sake with peach ice cream. flower_goddess thought that he was trying to get Adachi drunk since all the dishes used sake in some fashion.

    Iron Chef Sakai fired back with five dishes:
  1. Red snapper and tuna combo featuring hot bean paste. Stop. Stop right there. Kishi thought it was a bit hot for Girls' Festival.
  2. Blowfish (stop. stop right there.) soft roe risotto. Akino thought the clams were a bit tough. Kishi would have liked to see it in a sake sauce rather than a white wine sauce. I don't think there was any sake left after Kondo was done with it.
  3. Clam and vegetable soup.
  4. Scallop spring rolls. Akino: "I'm enjoying this cream sauce very much." flower_goddess fell out of her chair laughing. Kishi: "This dish doesn't have much impact."
  5. Peach Festival sorbet. Adachi: "It wobbles in my mouth!" Woo hoo! What a closing statement!

Fukui's voiceover before the last commercial break: "Which man measures up?" OK, I was wrong. That was the closing statement. The verdict? 3-1 to the Iron Chef: Adachi 18-17, Akino 20-19, and Kishi 18-17. Hosokawa voted 19-18 for Kondo.

Iron Chef is always funny, but this one is by far the funniest of the thirty or so eps I've seen. I don't know if the double entendres were purposeful, and I don't care. If you ever get a chance to see this episode, DO IT!

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on May 12, 2005 1:43 PM.

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