This match between Souma and Alice has been so intense and engrossing I actually had forgotten that there were other contestants left to cook in the following Autumn Election battles. But because of that, right from the start, this round of the Autumn Election has been immensely exciting and entertaining. Souma being the complete underdog makes it even more so, especially when 99% of the audience have already written him off as losing. Souma’s Nori Bento’s initial appearance may not have caused the same wonder as Alice’s bento, but what Souma is doing so well is utilising the ingredients and flavours he is incorporating inside his bento to the fullest. The judges reactions (and imagination) is an expression of how successful Souma has been in evolving his Nori Bento.
I was very curious to see how Souma would present his Nori Bento and how he would incorporate the spark of creativity he had during his conversation with Ryouko. He did present the side dishes and soup in a normal fashion but it seems he has innovated the way he presented his nori and rice, which we will have to wait for the next chapter to find out how. Going back to the side dishes, Souma really did push the flavours of them concentrating on even the smallest details of the ingredients allowing him to evolve the overall flavour of his side dishes into a refined tasting dish that ate lightly.
Souma’s soup as well utilised the properties of a bento box nicely and pulled all the separate ingredients used in dish together to create an enveloping and satisfying dish. The way the judges reacted illustrated exactly how stripped back their selves were taken and how blissful a state they entered into after tasting Souma’s soup. For them to actually imagine themselves playing Ring a Ring o’ Roses shows just how far in bliss they were, it was amusing yet totally self-explanatory of how the judges felt.
Alice does compliment Souma on his knowledge concerning bento’s but she still looks down on Souma for utilising such “normal” methods for presenting his dish. Souma aware that Alice is an expert at innovative cooking does point out a flaw in her dish, questioning her on whether her dish was really amazing as a bento. Beyond the dish and the flavours contained within, there is an important layer of thought that does go with eating, the layer of emotion and how a dish helps draw out certain emotions from an individual while and after being eaten. The flashback of Souma as a child and the bento he prepared for the old lady he saw as a grandmother expressed nicely how cooking can involve many layers that go beyond just the presentation and flavour of the food. There is a warmth beyond the physical heat of a dish that can warm a person’s heart and being up.
Even with that flashback, I am still not exactly sure what Souma has done with his nori and rice, but a bento eaten in the middle of a working day does need to not only be physically nourishing but mentally nourishing as well as during the day people get both physically and mentally exhausted. Tapping into a person’s emotions is one way to inspire energy and drive inside a person.
With Souma expanding his own cooking style I am really looking forward to seeing how he has evolved the content inside his bento. Just what exactly lies beyond?