Cutting Carrots Like a Makanai

Amaranth Journal, one of the most beautiful art and food publications I know, has just published my essay entitled Cooking Carrots Like a Makanai. If you’ve watched the Netflix Series “The Makanai; Cooking for the Maiko House” directed by the famous Kore-eda, you might appreciate my piece. But even if you never cook, have no interest in Japan,and eschew Netflix, please enjoy!

To read the entire piece, please go to the link below.

Here’s how it starts:

Perhaps all you need is a really sharp knife. And a grandmother back in Aomori. I like to think that if I possessed both those things, I could be a cook like Kiyo, the exuberant and competent young woman at the heart of Kore-eda’s beautiful Netflix series, The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. As I watch the show’s intro, I’m filled with a sort of awe and jealousy. I wanna cut carrots like that! Tidy, perfect matchstick carrots, sliced with a gentle bend of the wrist.

Kiyo doesn’t set out to be a cook. She leaves her hometown at sixteen and comes down to Kyoto with her best friend, Sumire, in hopes of becoming an apprentice geisha. She flunks out as a maiko, but she blossoms as a makanai, or maiko house cook. Of course, thanks to her grandmother’s example, she knows how to cook before she leaves home.