Yesterday at Menu Development, I had Miya do what I asked Yukio to do last week: to make me a certain list of Japanese dishes that they know how. Today was about the cooks not only seeing and tasting Miya's Japanese dishes that she grew up eating, it was about having a "point of reference" and going over terminology of Japanese dishes and ingredients. It was also for me to have a starting point in working with Miya in reference to her style of Japanese cooking and taste.
We went around the table and we found many different ethnicities among us. Add on the fact that some local Japanese kids do not know how to cook certain Japanese dishes nor know what they should taste like. Just like in Japan, actually. Certain generations are eating out at fast food places, replacing eating at home, where they would be eating their parents cooking.
A lot of them today never ate some of what Miya made, and this is the "point of reference" they will have until they eat something else in the same category, for example, "tsukemono," "sunomono," "suimono".
Whether it be classical French cookery, European cookery, or Japanese or Chinese, it is important to have a base, a culinary foundation and knowledge, from which you cook, and maybe create from. I think a lot of these cooks are going to spend a little more time asking their parents about how to cook certain dishes. We have a Filipino boy who doesn't know how to cook adobo. He is asking his grandma and mom how to. His grandma doesn’t use vinegar, only fresh tomatoes for the acid. Even I am learning something new everyday.
Nothing wrong with going back in time. Just like a French culinary student may have assignments on Escoffier, we would go back to our ethnic roots for that knowledge and inspiration. A lot of the "new" foods and dishes out there aren’t really new, just reworked. Some of the new food doesn’t make sense or have any sense of place.