Itadakimasu. I never thought I’d start one of these letters with a single word in Japanese, but there it is: itadakimasu.
It means “I humbly receive” and is said before meals as a form of praise, gratitude and acknowledgement for the food and all the elements — the earth, the farmers, the fishermen, the chef and even the waiters — who made it viable. It's like a one-word Grace. A deeper, more packed bon appétit. A verbal stamp of real-time sensual awareness that, to me, captures the essence of the sacred art of eating.
As some of you may recall, I recently wrote about the prospect of “travel” via the meals we make in our own kitchens, which inevitably got me thinking about the power of actual travel as one of the great influencers on our kitchens. And for me personally, there has been no greater journey than the trip Arron and I were lucky enough to take to Japan in 2017, right before we started this company.
Of course, Japan offered stunning panoramas, dizzyingly fun cityscapes, epic hikes, unforgettable baths and some of the most cutting edge toilets a human being could ever fathom — but the one thing that Japan most clearly did for me was realign my relationship with food.
What I noticed in Japan was that across every social strata, from the finest eateries to the grittiest roadside stops, food is so much more than just fuel — it’s an ode to living. An expression of glory. A spiritual tribute to an everyday activity. Dishes are displays of love, their details like little kisses, the flavors like etched memories that linger well beyond the very last bite. Every meal, typically made up of various little plates, is a mini obstacle course of piquancy, inviting each of the senses to stand up and sing. Each food item on every tray has its own vessel, every vessel its own lid — all of it a testament to the respect that underscores the entirety of the experience.
Why does any of this matter, you ask? Because sometimes it feels like eating — especially in times of uncertainty — can become mechanical, routine, maybe even taken for granted. To which I say, let’s feel each meal, and savor each flavor. Let’s adorn our tables and jazz up our spreads. And let’s transform every act of consumption to not only humbly receive, but also a moment to shine.
Pictured above: miso butter linguini with our spot prawns in a garlic and Japanese 7-spice and sesame-sake-mirin reduction, topped with furikake and the prawns’ own roe — a dish I made this week that could only have been inspired our forever cherished travels in Japan. Itadakimasu!