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寻找日本不为人知的创意料理

更新时间:2016-3-4 10:06:55 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

In Search of Japan’s Hidden Culinary Revolution
寻找日本不为人知的创意料理

I was on the Shinkansen bullet train and roaring north toward the Japan Sea at 125 miles per hour when I passed through the wormhole in space-time. The wormhole was on the far end of a long, unlit tunnel. Three-quarters of an hour earlier, in the midst of a sunny winter’s day, I’d boarded the train at the loud, insanely complex and many-leveled Tokyo main station, accompanied by my friend Bob Sliwa. We were bound for the coastal town of Kanazawa, sometimes known as the hidden pearl of the Japan Sea and famed for the freshness and variety of its fish-based cuisine.

新干线子弹列车以125英里的时速在漫长而黑暗的隧道中飞驰,奔向北方的日本海。忽然,列车从隧道尽头穿过,仿佛带着我们从时空虫洞一跃而出,来到另一个崭新的世界。那是一个阳光灿烂的冬日。45分钟之前,我和老友鲍勃·斯里瓦(Bob Sliwa)在人声鼎沸、层次繁多、纷乱繁忙的东京站登上了这列动车,目的地是海滨城市金泽。金泽被誉为日本海一颗鲜为人知的明珠,以新鲜多样的海鲜料理而闻名于世。

The trip there last winter was to be the climax of my weeklong attempt to find the hidden culinary truth of Japan, beyond the reach of guidebooks or the well-intentioned efforts of such celebrity investigators as Anthony Bourdain. My secret weapon in this was Bob himself, a man embedded in Japan for 30 years, deeply conversant in the ways and cuisines of the country and, by great good fortune, my college roommate.

这趟行程是我去年冬天为期一周的日本之旅的高潮。此行目的是寻找日本料理不为人所知的真相。这些真相在一般旅游指南的介绍中是找不到的,即使那些安东尼·伯尔顿(Anthony Bourdain)之流的著名美食家用心良苦的努力也未能触及。我的秘密武器就是老友鲍勃,他在日本生活了30年,对这个国家的饮食人文深有浸润。我曾与他大学同窗,真是幸何如之。

From Tokyo to Kanazawa in this food-obsessed nation, sampling the culinary wizardry of a new wave of creative chefs.
从东京到金泽,在这个酷爱美食的国度里品尝新生代创意厨师的烹饪魅力。

We exited the tunnel into a crash of white light. On the far side was a winterscape of deep snow, mountain vistas and blowing wind. The day we’d been traveling through until then had been dry and mild, and the sudden atmospheric shift made it seem that we might, in fact, have just rocketed through a rift in space-time. Bob, stroking his goatee, laughed out loud at my confusion.

在我们穿出隧道的那一刹那,耀眼的白色阳光扑面而来。远方是一片白雪皑皑、山峦起伏、寒风凛冽的冬季景色。在此之前,我们所到之处的天气一直温暖而干燥。眼前气候却迥然不同,实在令人惊异,似乎我们真的实现了一次时空穿越。鲍勃捋着山羊胡子,对我的困惑大声笑了起来。

“We were climbing in the dark in that tunnel the whole time — didn’t you feel your ears pop?” he asked. “What you see here is the result of the steady wind blowing off the Japan Sea from China, picking up the moisture of the ocean along the way and throwing it against the mountains as snow — and lots of it. Think of the Continental Divide, Japan-style.”

“我们在那条黑暗的隧道里一直在向山上爬升——你没觉得耳压有变化吗?”他说,“风从中国吹过日本海,带来海上的湿气,遇到高山阻隔后变成大量降雪,于是形成了窗外这样的景色。这就是日本特色的大陆板块气候。”

I lowered my eyes from the Alpine visuals and back to my notes on the previous days’ eating and drinking. The pages, which were thick with arrows and exclamation points, seemed only to get more densely crosshatched as time went on, and for good reason. The dozen or so meals I’d had in Tokyo had been a marvel of consistent variation, ringing fluid changes of texture and flavor on those three little words that define the cuisine of this island nation at its heart: iso no aji, or “tastes like ocean spray.”

我的目光从积雪覆盖的高山景色收回,落在摊开的笔记本上。那上面记录了我这些日子里享受的美酒美食,字里行间充满了各种箭头和惊叹号。随着时间的推移,这些记号愈发变得密密麻麻。在东京的十几餐,多姿多彩的美食、流畅变幻的质感与风味,无不体现着岛国料理之精髓,那简单的三个字:iso no aji ——“浪之味”。

By agreement, the majority of places Bob and I had gone to so far were chosen to illustrate the point that the most creative cooking in Japan is no longer being done in A-list restaurants. Those places, which continue to serve up superb food, belong to the days when the country was still riding high atop the mighty economic surge that carried it from the ashes of World War II all the way to the forefront of the global market. They’re relics of the time when the Japanese, so expert at mimicry, sent their best young chefs to the high-end restaurants of France and Italy where their work ethic ensured them a rapid rise up the kitchen ladder, and upon their return, the creation of perfect interpretations of their previous employers’ cuisine.

这次我们共同选择的多数餐馆都是为了证实一点,那就是日本最有创意的烹饪料理已不再属于那些高档餐饮会所。这些餐馆仍然提供着最高端的食物,但他们却属于那已经逝去的年代。当时,日本从二战的灰烬中站起,驾驭着经济复苏的大潮,直至国际市场最前沿。作为模仿的专家,日本把他们最好的年轻厨师送进法国和意大利的高档餐馆。他们刻苦工作,在餐饮业的职业阶梯上一路攀升。当他们回到日本,也带回了对就学之地烹饪艺术的完美诠释。

It’s no accident that Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants of any city in the world. But rather than sampling the wares of these warhorses, I’d arrived to try the second culinary wave, a quiet in-house revolution that is afoot all over the country. Driven by chefs mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, its inspiration was the collapse of that same economic surge in the early 1990s, followed by the now famous stagnation or “20 lost years,” as it’s referred to in the foreign press. As the country entered a period of soul-searching, these young chefs took the opportunity to throw off what Bob calls the “legacy exoskeleton” of manners and slavish obedience to groupthink and instead to begin advancing the cause of native ingredients, prepared with great care and what seems at times almost freakish originality.

因而,东京拥有全世界最多的米其林星级餐馆,并非侥幸。但是,我这次不是为了这些久经沙场的老牌餐馆而来。我要品评的,是正在全日本悄然兴起的二次料理革命,是来自日本本土的一波崭新的美食潮流。这场革命由一代30岁上下的厨师兴起,他们的灵感植根于二十世纪90年代初著名的经济大萧条时期。那时日本经济从高速发展之中迅速崩溃,步入了外媒所称的“失去的二十年”。在全日本进入反思之时,这些年轻厨师们趁机摆脱了对集体思维的奴性服从,用鲍勃的话来说,抛开了“前人的桎梏”。他们开始倡导一种以本土食材为材料,精心准备,独具匠心,甚至异想天开的料理风格。

Exhibit A: the plate of smoked salted cod roe sprinkled with red chile pepper flakes at a restaurant called N-1155 in the hip, hilly Tokyo neighborhood of Nakameguro. The smoking and salting produced a deliciously bespoke version of fish jerky, whose peppery marine tang married perfectly with a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc.

我记录里的第一件精品,是洒着红辣椒末的腌熏鳕鱼白。这是在东京附近,时尚的丘陵小镇中木黑(Nakameguro),一家叫做N-1155的餐馆里吃到的。品尝着经熏制和腌制而成的美味特制鱼干,再叫上一杯冰白苏维翁,正与弹性的海鲜口感相得益彰。

Exhibits B and C: a flash-cold-smoked sea perch sashimi, and a bagna cauda, both served at the same restaurant. Flash cold smoking, done in the kitchen just before plating, imparts a tangy, cooked woodland savor to the raw flesh of the fish that makes for a delicious cognitive dissonance in the mouth. The bagna cauda was upgraded by having its oil mostly replaced with cream, creating a rich bath into which produce from the restaurant’s own farm in southern Japan — thin-cut yellow carrot, mustard green, lotus root and kohlrabi — was dipped and then removed, leaving its bright, vegetal essences enrobed in unctuous garlic.

在这家餐馆里还可以吃到冷熏微烤鲈鱼刺身加意大利蘸酱。在后厨即将装盘之前,快速的低温微熏给生鱼片增加了一种浓郁的木香,放入嘴中,满口生香。意大利蘸酱经过改良,由奶油代替菜油。餐馆在日本南部农场自产各种蔬菜,包括胡萝卜、芥菜、莲藕和甘蓝。这些蔬菜被切成薄片,在汤汁中浸润,然后捞出弃置不用,只留下一股爽口的蔬菜精华,与厚厚的蒜茸和奶油一起,创造出一碗香浓的酱汁。

The next day, a few blocks away, it was the turn of a place called Harbor Bar. Modeled vaguely on a Venetian wine bar and boasting fish from the Sanriku Coast region of northern Japan, the tiny restaurant has a cheerfully casual D.I.Y. atmosphere that channels Bushwick. But there’s nothing casual about the food in the least.

第二天,我们去到几个街区之外的另一家料理,叫做港湾酒吧(Harbor Bar)。这家小餐厅格局依稀有些威尼斯酒吧的味道,所用的食材都是日本北部三陆海岸地区的海产。它的环境轻松随意,有一种自助的气氛,让人想起纽约的布什维克。可它的菜肴却很精致。

The opener was a plate of super-fresh scallop sashimi, enlivened with a ginger sauce whose citrus notes gave the dish the feel of a mollusk ceviche. This was followed up by a serving of raw botan shrimp — as large as langoustines — which arrived paired with a spicy rémoulade of cured carrots. While we ate, Bob and I continued to catch up. Unusually for a Westerner who has been living long-term in Japan, he’s lost none of his youthful enthusiasm and manifests the same manic glee he once did as a jazz-mad, art-crazed undergraduate.

开胃菜是一盘超级新鲜的扇贝刺身,配料的姜汁带有一种柑橘味,使这盘菜有一种酸橘汁腌海鲜的口感。接着上来的是生牡丹虾——和海鳌虾一般大小——搭配香辣蛋黄酱腌胡萝卜。我和鲍勃边吃边聊我们分别之后的生活。他还是像年轻时那么热情洋溢。在大学时,他曾是个爵士乐狂和艺术狂。而现在,他那种兴奋与狂热的劲头丝毫未减。对于一个在日本长期生活的西方人来说,这实在很不寻常。

“Some people live here and want to be Japanese,” he said. “I didn’t. Not only is it impossible, but I don’t want to be treated the way Japanese treat themselves. I love Japan, but I sell myself as a foreigner who’s willing to break the rules and say what’s wrong.”

“有些人在这里生活,希望与本地人融为一体。”他说,“可我不是这样。不单因为我根本做不到,而且我也不喜欢日本人对待他们自己的方式。我爱日本,但是作为一个外国人,我不怕打破规矩,也不怕指出他们不好的地方。”

“And what is wrong?” I asked.

“他们有什么不好的地方呢?”我问道。

Bob, who works in Japan as an industrial designer, rubbed his hand over his shaved skull and said: “Two words define Japanese culture. One is ‘monozukuri,’ or ‘the Japanese way of making things.’ The other is ‘omotenashi,’ or ‘the Japanese way of hospitality.’ If the country rebuilt itself into such a buff economic specimen after World War II, it did so partly out of its belief in the superiority of both of these things to any other country’s. But then the bubble economy burst, the 21st century happened, and the country lost its way. I call it a nationwide case of the rope-a-dope. Whole industrial sectors have fallen asleep. Remember the Walkman? How’s that working out for you, Sony?”

鲍勃在日本的职业是工业设计师。他用手摸了摸自己剃光的头,说:“日本文化可以用两个词来定义。第一个词是‘制造’,也就是‘日本特色的制造方式’。第二个词是‘招待’,也就是‘日本人的待客之道’。这个国家在二战后把自己建成一个强有力的国家,原因之一就是因为他们确信,自己在这两点上比其他任何国家都优越。但是,进入21世纪之后,经济泡沫的破灭使他们不知所措。我认为,整个国家现在都在韬光养晦,整个工业界毫无生机。你还记得随身听吗?让我们来问问索尼:它的命运如何了?”

Before I could answer the rhetorical question, my attention was distracted by the arrival of something called an iwagaki rock oyster.

我正在想如何回答他的这个反诘,一道新菜的到来打断了我的思绪。这道菜名是岩蚝。

Ah, that oyster. It was the largest bivalve I’ve ever seen, with a shell approximately the size and shape of my foot. “You freeze it while alive and then slow-cook it at low temperatures,” the waiter explained, bowing. “That makes the umami come out.” The monster was dressed in a brightly acid dill-based mignonette and disproved the axiom that larger versions of anything taste worse: It was a briny, exquisite splash of sea in the mouth.

呵,那生蚝。可以说它是我曾见过的最大的贝类了。贝壳的形状大小和我的脚差不多。“它还活着的时候你就得把它冷冻起来,然后用小火慢炖。”侍应生鞠了一躬,对我们介绍说,“这样鲜味才能出来。”这个特大生蚝上涂抹着一层酸酸的茴香木樨草酱汁,吃在嘴里,给你带来鲜咸而细腻的海浪滋味,彻底否定了“物大则无味”这一坊间说法。

I was still finishing it when the owner of the restaurant, alerted by my exclamations of joy, came over to talk. His name was Akira Matsuoka and he’s part of a restaurant consortium that oversees several venues in Tokyo. Rail thin, with high cheekbones, black jeans and alt-rock facial hair, he answered my question as to how he invents his dishes by explaining: “My partners and I think of ourselves as a food think tank. We don’t care about Michelin rankings. First we come up with the concept, and then we invent the dishes to fit it, sometimes collectively and sometimes individually. Rather than a star chef, we make the food the star.” He smiled and circled a finger in the air to indicate the small space crammed with diners. “And it seems to be working.”

我细细品尝着它的滋味。听到我不停的赞叹之声,餐馆老板走了出来,与我攀谈起来。他名叫阿基拉松冈(Akira Matsuoka),他的这家小店是一个餐饮集团属下的一部分,这个集团在东京还有几个其他店面。他人很瘦,高高的颧骨,身穿黑色牛仔服,留着另类摇滚式的须发。当我问到他是如何创造出这道菜时,他回答说:“我和我的合伙人把自己看作美食智库。我们不在乎米其林星级。我们会首先想出一个概念,然后再创造一盘菜来表达这个概念。菜点的创作有时合作完成,有时独立完成。我们并不想做什么明星厨师。在这里,食物才是明星。”他微微笑着,手指在空中划了一圈,指着挤满小屋的就餐者。“这个做法看起来还蛮有效的。”

Over the next few days, the culinary wizardry of Tokyo chefs remained unflagging. Yet, of all the entrees and appetizers I tried (the rice paper tubes of crab flash-fried so that the crunchy, starchy surface held a core of molten raw crustacean; the cod ovaries baked in Gorgonzola that scattered delicious marine bursts of garlic across the palate; the tiny fish called an ayu, or “sweet fish,” which is fermented in the dregs of sake for three years to make the bones grow edibly soft) — all of it, no matter how odd, gross or wonderful, would pale next to the one dish that remained dangling, like the holy grail, just out of reach. People spoke of it as the greatest white-fleshed sashimi in the world.

接下来的几天里,东京大厨们展示了从未令我失望的料理魅力。我品尝了各式各样的开胃菜与正餐,包括壳脆馅嫩的香煎软壳蟹米纸卷,充满蒜香海鲜口感的奶酪焗鳕鱼子,还有用清酒渣腌制三年而成的酥骨小香鱼。这些餐点有的怪异、有的恶心、有的美味。然而,所有这些,在另一道美食面前都黯然失色。那就像一个遥不可及的圣杯,一直在我们眼前晃动。它就是传说中世上最了不起的白身鱼刺身。

Back on the train, I heard Bob say, “We’re almost here,” and I slowly raised my eyes from my notebook. The fish was the legendary kanburi, or winter yellowtail, which abounds in the waters off Kanazawa, and after a couple of hours on the train, we were finally sliding into Kanazawa Station.

“我们快到了。”鲍勃的话音把我拉回到眼前的火车上,我从笔记本上慢慢抬起目光。经过两小时的旅程,火车终于缓缓滑进金泽车站。那传说中的鱼,就是盛产于金泽的冷鰤鱼,又叫冬鰤。

But before food, a drink. Several, actually. Drinking in Japan is a crucial social and professional lubricant in a country where ritualized courtesies can easily harden into walls, and Bob, a teetotaler in college, had successfully adapted. Kanazawa, like most Japanese cities of a decent size, has a distinct “drinking district,” honeycombed with tiny bars, and not long after checking in to our hotel, we found ourselves in a stand-up bar called Choikichi.

当然,在吃之前,总得喝上一杯。或者多喝几杯。在日本这个地方,礼仪往往成为人际交往的障碍,而饮酒则成为社会与职业交往至关重要的润滑剂。鲍勃在大学是个滴酒不沾的人,但他终于也成功地转型了。和其他略有规模的城市一样,金泽也有自己的“饮酒区”。在这里,小酒家比肩接踵。我们在酒店入住之后没多久,就已经身处一家名为崔基地(Choikichi)的站立式酒吧了。

Stand-up means exactly what it sounds like, and the long counter of this former ice cream parlor was crowded on a late afternoon with regulars watching sumo wrestling on television. As titans clashed thunderously on the screen above us, the locals chatted happily with one another, and I had the sense of having wandered into a tiny Japanese analogue of Cheers, the famously chummy bar “where everybody knows your name.” We ate edamame and delicious rakkyo (pickled onions) and drank a fairly common but tasty sake.

站立式酒吧恰如其名。傍晚时分,这个由冰激凌小店改造的酒吧里,长长的柜台前熙熙攘攘地站满了本地的熟客,兴高采烈地彼此交谈。头顶上,电视中播放着相扑比赛,一个个彪形大汉如雷霆般向对方冲击。恍惚间,我觉得走进了日本版的干杯酒吧(Cheers),那个有名的酒吧,“在那儿每个人都互相认识”,如一家人般亲密。在这个站立式酒吧里,我们就着毛豆和美味的腌藠头(一种腌制的小洋葱)喝到了味道不错的普通清酒。

Bob, a habitué of these places, was welcomed everywhere we went with shouts. The shouts were particularly loud later that night at a bar named, hilariously, Pub Dylan (as in Bob). There I was served a very expensive sake called Dassai, whose cool, perfect balance gave me the impression of drinking a dipperful of outer space. It was also at this place that Bob (my friend) brought down the house by correctly identifying the Japanese rock band playing on the big-screen TV as the Atomic Bomb Masturbation.

鲍勃显然是这些地方的常客,他每到一处都会受到人们的欢呼。那天晚上晚些时候,我们来到另一家酒吧,它的名字很有趣,叫迪伦酒吧(Pub Dylan),和鲍勃·迪伦(Bob Dylan)同名(译者注:美国著名歌手,名字与作者的老友鲍勃相同)。我们走进这家酒吧时,欢呼声尤为响亮。在那里他们端给我一杯非常昂贵的清酒,叫做獺祭(Dassai)。它那清凉、酸甜有致的口感让人有飘飘欲仙之感。在这里,鲍勃,不是鲍勃·迪伦,而是我的朋友鲍勃,准确地认出了头上大屏幕电视里表演的日本摇滚乐团是Atomic Bomb Masturbation,赢得了全场又一次欢呼。

After a quick, delicious tempura dinner I returned to my dwarf hotel room, only moderately worse for alcoholic wear, and asked myself the obvious question: Is Japan the most food-crazed nation on earth? Evidence for “yes” is pretty thick on the ground. Tokyo has a staggering 80,000 restaurants, as opposed to the 15,000 of New York or the 6,000 of London. But more to the point: Where else on the planet would a country’s biggest boy band have its own cooking show? What other nation would stage a televised competition in which they brought in challengers to try to better a master sushi chef’s technique and scanned the resulting sushi pieces with an MRI to compare the ratio of rice to air? What other place could possibly, under any circumstances, have invented the operatic and off-the-wall “Battle of the Iron Chef”?

简短而美味的天妇罗晚餐之后,我回到狭小的酒店房间,略有醉意。我忍不住自问:日本是否是地球上最爱吃的国度?肯定的证明比比皆是:东京餐馆有令人震惊的8万家之多,而纽约只有1万5千家,伦敦更是才有6千家。更说明问题的是:除了日本,世界上哪个国家里最著名的男孩乐队会有自己的烹饪节目?哪个国家电视台的厨艺比赛,会不仅让参赛者挑战寿司师傅的料理技巧,更是用核磁共振来检测寿司饭卷中空气的含量,并以此决定比赛结果?又还有哪一个国家能发明出那个夸张而奇特的“铁人料理”(Battle of the Iron Chef)电视节目?

The very next day, as if in answer to these questions, Japan served me the best seafood meal of my life. It did so at a small, easily missed, relatively modest-looking restaurant called Yamashita.

就在第二天,仿佛是要回答我的问题,日本献出了我一生中吃到的滋味最美的海鲜。这事发生在一家豪不引人注目,门面简单的小餐馆里,其店名叫“山下”(Yamashita)。

Yamashita is on no foreigner’s must-see lists, and there wasn’t an English language word in sight. But the restaurant, located by Bob, is a temple of sorts where the eponymous owner and chef Mitsuo Yamashita is referred to by his employees as the Master, and boss and staff work as one to pluck the freshest, purest products from the nearby ocean and put them on your plate with minimal interference.

山下餐馆是鲍勃找到的,像个禅院模样。它在任何一个外国旅游者的景点清单里都从未出现过。店里所有地方也没有半句英文。店主兼大厨山下光雄(Mitsuo Yamashita)被手下称作“师傅”。老板和手下共同努力,从附近的海域中带来最新鲜纯净的海产,然后做极简的处理之后送上你的餐盘。

The meal began with a pictorially perfect tray of amuse bouches: thin-cut strips of yellowtail stomach dressed in a vinegar-miso sauce, which tasted smoked though they weren’t, along with a small pile of herrings fermented in the dregs of sake, and a handful of fresh snap peas, each dabbed with tiny blobs of black sesame pesto.

最先送上来的是餐前点心:切得薄薄的鰤鱼肚沾香醋味噌酱,虽然没有经过熏制,吃起来却有些微烤的味道;还有一小堆酒糟鲱鱼和十来个上面点洒着黑芝麻酱的新鲜蜜豆。

A sake, painstakingly engineered by Mr. Yamashita in consultation with local brewers, partnered these refined salty nibbles perfectly. But all this was a mere prelude to that moment when a waitress, smiling, brought in plates heaped high with the prized kanburi sashimi.

与这些鲜咸的小吃完美配合的是山下先生与当地酿酒师合作精心酿制的清酒。这只不过是个前奏。接下来才是大家翘首以待的时刻:女侍应生微笑着端上一盘堆得高高的久负盛名的冷鰤鱼刺身。

Why has this fish been elevated to the very top spot among sashimi lovers? Because kanburi uniquely fuses two qualities that are almost never found in the same animal. Take maguro, the tuna whose sashimi is most recognizable to Americans. There’s the red meat, or akami, version, with its firm texture and relatively mild flavor, and the pinker version known as otoro that is filled with delicious oils and fats. The problem is that the tasty otoro has a crumbly, falling-apart texture in the mouth likened disdainfully by Bob to “eating sashimi marshmallows.” Because texture, along with temperature and flavor, are part of the “mouth moment” of Japanese cuisine, the challenge is to find a firm fish that is also rich in oil.

为什么冷鰤对生鱼片爱好者来说位居榜首?因为它是能够融合两种重要品质的唯一鱼种。就拿美国人最熟悉的金枪鱼来说吧。鱼背部颜色偏红的部分,叫Akami,肉质紧实,味道相对比较平淡。鱼腹颜色偏浅的部分称为otoro,油脂丰溢,味道香美,但是肉质却十分疏松,按鲍勃轻蔑的话来说,吃起来就像 “吃生鱼片棉花糖”。肉质、温度和味道是日本料理中“口感”不可或缺的部分。因此,找到一种油脂丰溢而肉质紧实的鱼片是一个挑战。

Enter kanburi, which for that brief, miraculous period every winter, is both those things. The fish, in thick slabs, now lay fanned out on the plate before me, glistening with oil — oil that had leached out of it because the Master had intentionally let the fish “rest,” or cure for a day or so. Mind you, fish oil like this has nothing “fishy” about it. The kanburi was silky, pliant, yielding and tasted of a distilled, superclean essence of the sea. It seemed to exemplify everything that was best about Japanese cuisine, and mouthful by mouthful it put me into a kind of trance.

这时就轮到冷鰤出场了。每年冬天,有那么短暂而奇妙的一小段时间,冷鰤能够同时拥有这两种美质。我面前的盘子里摆放着一块块厚厚的鱼块,闪着油光——师傅特意让鱼“歇”了一天左右,让油脂溢出。别忘了,这样的鱼油毫无腥味。冷鰤肉质柔软滑顺、富有弹性,吃在嘴里,像是浓缩了清新爽口的大海芳香,突显日本料理的最高境界。随着一片片刺身送人口中,我仿佛不知身在何处。

Suddenly the Master poked his head in again and barked some machine-gun Japanese at Bob, who translated it with a single word: squid. It was being offered as our next course, and there was no question of not taking it. One would as soon have refused an audience with the pope.

忽然,师傅探出头来,对鲍勃叫出了一串如机关枪一般的日语。鲍勃的翻译只有一个词:乌贼。原来这是下一道菜,我们当然来者不拒。我宁可错失与教皇见面的机会,也不会拒绝这样的美食。

This would turn out to be something called “spear squid.” Freshly caught and still alive in the kitchen, it was killed, masterfully julienned and brought to the table as sashimi, along with a sauce made of fermented bonito guts, a condiment of pickled wild wasabi flowers, a heated stone and some stern admonitions from the Master as to exactly how to cook the squid — barely — and what the precise protocol was for eating it. Dishes like this belong to a category known for its hazawari, or “tooth feel,” and produce a dazzling mix of ocean flavor notes while offering an old-fashioned popcorn-like crunch in the mouth.

端上来的是所谓的“枪乌贼”。刚刚抓到的,在厨房活杀之后,精巧地片成条,然后作为刺身端上桌来。配菜包括鲣鱼内脏酱和腌渍野芥末花,还有一块烤热的石头。师傅神情严肃地教导我们如何烹制乌贼——不能久烹——然后又教给我们吃乌贼的准确步骤。这道菜肴主要是要感受它的“嚼口”,一种海洋风味交织着老派爆米花的爽脆。

By the end of such a meal, something has happened to you, something close to the psychic euphoria produced by yoga or meditation. You’ve entered a zone of food satori, mystically zonked by the punch of a culture that has been perfecting its culinary subtleties for thousands of years. What to do?

一餐已矣,你会感受到一种微妙的变化,好似瑜伽或冥想之后感悟的那种心灵之升华。仿佛你刚刚接受了那历经千年浸润的饮食文化对你的神秘一击,使你顿获美食之悟。

After an elaborately choreographed goodbye, we took a digestive stroll in the seaside air, passing through the gaudy Kanazawa downtown with its Ginza-style flashing lights, its kuru kuru (conveyor belt) sushi restaurants (Japanese is rich in onomatopoetic words, and “kuru kuru” is the sound of a conveyor belt; say it fast and you’ll understand), its knickknack shops, bars and omnipresent FamilyMart convenience stores.

经过一个精心设计的告别仪式之后,我们在海滨的空气中缓步前行。一路上是金泽市中心银座格调的华丽灯火,以及一家家库鲁库鲁回转寿司餐厅(日语里有很多拟声词。“库鲁库鲁”是回转带转动的声音,试一下快速读这个词你就会明白了)、小礼品店、酒吧,和无处不在的全家连锁便利店。

Our destination was the beautiful old wood-fronted part of town called Higasha Chaya-Gai. (Kanazawa shares with Kyoto the distinction of being one of the few large Japanese cities not bombed by the Allies during World War II). There, we entered a sleekly minimalist bar called Teriha and seated ourselves among the drinkers, conscious that it was our last evening out.

我们的目的地是老城东茶屋街(Higashi Chaya-Gai),那是一片美丽的木质民房。(金泽和京都是二战期间没有遭到盟军轰炸损毁的仅有的几个日本大城市之一。)在那里,我们走进了一家简约风格的酒吧,叫做照葉(Teriha)。我们在酒客间坐下,心知这是我们这趟旅行的最后一晚了。

I had spent a full week living inside a kind of tone poem of fish and alcohol, enriched by unflagging conversation with a dear old friend. But a vague perception had been weighing on me constantly during the trip, and suddenly, in the dark bar, that perception sharpened into words: I’ve never been to so foreign a place before that felt so deeply familiar.

整整一个星期,我仿佛生活在一个鱼和酒交织而成的音诗之中,伴随着亲密老友热情洋溢的交心畅谈。自始至终,我的脑海里有一种若隐若现的感觉,琢磨不透,转瞬即逝。那天,在那个昏暗的酒吧里,我忽然抓住了那个感觉:我从未在一个如此陌生的国度里体会到如此深刻的熟悉感。

Differently from an Asian country like India, where I’ve also spent time, the social iconography of Japan is profoundly recognizable to an American. Despite the culture’s insularity and remoteness from us, the Japanese often dress and style themselves in a way that clearly states their social membership in categories of rocker, matron, intellectual, etc., and these identities can be easily “read” by a tourist from the United States. This fact, a product of the longstanding symbiotic relationship between the countries, produces a visual halo effect, in which one is always observing roles and mores on several levels at once. Exhausting on the one hand, it’s endlessly, compulsively fascinating on the other.

我去过其他亚洲国家,比如印度。但是日本不同。它的社会表象对美国人来说有深度的共识感。尽管日本是个距我们很远的岛国,但那里人的着装服饰清楚表达出他们的社会归属:摇滚人、主妇、文化人,等等。美国旅游者可以轻易认出这些人的身份。这是日美两国相存相依多年的产物,也因此促成了一个光环效应,使人可以同时观察到他人的社会角色以及其他诸多层面的东西。一方面,这有些令人应接不暇,另一方面,这也的确让人不由心醉神驰。

Back in the bar, the lights suddenly dimmed further, and the conversations ceased. Rain started to fall, visible out the windows. Shrouded in darkness at the end of the bar, the owner, an ex-geisha named Yaeko Yoshigawa, began playing a flute. It was a bamboo flute called a shinobue, much used in Noh and Kabuki theater music and part of the essential “kit” of the geisha. The slow, wavering tones, played without obvious melody but filled with richness, lack the forward propulsive quality of Western music. Instead, individual notes are held until they’re mere wisps of sound, acoustic vapor.

这时,酒吧里灯光转暗,大家停止了交谈。窗外开始淅淅沥沥地下起雨来。吧台尽头,黑暗笼罩之中,酒吧主人吉川八重子(Yaeko Yoshigawa)开始吹起了笛子。她以前是个艺妓。她使用的竹笛叫做筱笛,是艺妓的基本“工具”之一,多用在日本能剧和歌舞伎剧场音乐之中。与西方音乐的大收大放不同,这音乐悠扬而婉转,听不出曲调,却充满内涵。每一个音符都拉得长长的,直到它越来越轻,终至弱不可闻,犹如情人耳边轻轻的私语。

For several minutes, quietly, the flute music continued, threading the air in the darkness. It wavered, seemed about to stop and then, surprisingly, went on, moving forward without resolution, a little bit like the beautiful, perplexing country of Japan itself, whose mix of ceremonial gravity and hidden culinary wonders had given me a week of the very best eating of my life. There was a pause that extended until we could hear the rain pattering on the roof and a single last note, after which Ms. Yoshigawa removed the flute from her mouth with a bow. The recital was finished. The tone poem was over. In the semi-darkness, Bob raised his glass in a last toast. It was time to go home.

几分钟里,静静的笛声在黑暗中萦绕。若隐若现,时有时无,在你以为音乐已尽之时,它却重再浮现,复又前行。这音乐正像日本这个美丽而莫测的国度,其庄重的礼仪和不为人知的料理奇迹交相辉映,让我度过了有生以来最美味的一个星期。音乐又一次停歇,只听见雨点在屋顶砸落的声音,接着,最后一个音符从笛中滑出。吉川夫人放下笛子,深深鞠躬。一曲终了,我那为期一周的交响音诗也就此结束。半明半暗之中,鲍勃最后一次举杯。是该回家的时候了。

If You Go

探访指南

Where to Stay

住在哪里

This particular trip was dedicated to eating, not lodging. In both Kanazawa and Tokyo there are abundant “business hotels,” found under that term on the Internet, where for usually less than $100 a night, or 11,390 yen at 114 yen to the dollar, one sleeps in a luxuriously appointed room the size of a large refrigerator. These are typically squeaky clean and have all modern conveniences, including, often, a washer-dryer and, incredibly, a pants press.

我这次旅行的目的是吃而不是住。金泽和东京都有大量的“商用酒店”,在网上用这个词即可查到。价钱一般为每晚100美元,或者1.139万日元(按1美元等于114日元计算)。房间和一个大型冰箱差不多大小,陈设奢华。这些酒店都一尘不染,拥有一切现代设施,通常包括洗衣机和烘干机,而且令人难以置信的是,常常还会有自动熨裤机。

Where to Eat

吃在哪里

Tokyo

东京

N-1155, 1-1-55 Nakameguro, Meguro, Tokyo; 81-3-3760-1001.

N-1155, 东京目黑区中目黑1-1-55 ; 81-3-3760-1001。

A beautiful wood-paneled restaurant in one of the hipper districts of Tokyo that serves innovative, exquisitely prepared seasonal food. Much of the produce is from the restaurant’s own organic farm in southern Japan. An English-language menu is a plus. Dinner and drinks start at about 5,000 yen.

位于东京比较前卫的街区里的一家美丽的木质餐馆,提供富有创意而制作精美的海鲜食品。使用的蔬菜主要取自餐馆在日本南部自营的有机农场。更棒的是他们提供英语的菜单。晚餐和酒水从5千日元起。

Harbor Bar (Minatomachi Baru), 3-7-8 Kamimeguro, Meguro, Tokyo; 81-3-5869-5806.

港湾酒吧(Harbor Bar, Minatomachi Baru), 东京目黑区上目黒3-7-8; 81-3-5869-5806。

Hipster interiors and a crowd right out of Bushwick fill up this small, very tasty seafood shop. The place is modeled loosely on a Venetian fish restaurant and has a decent Italian wine selection, but the superfresh and very creative dishes are straight from the Sanriku Coast, north of Tokyo. Dinner and drinks from about 4,000 yen on up.

这家小巧的海鲜店内饰时尚,味道上佳,满座的宾客与纽约布什维克没什么两样。室内装修仿效维也纳海鲜餐馆,酒单上有很不错的意大利酒品,然而它超级新鲜而极具创意的海鲜却全部来自东京北部的三陆海岸。晚餐与酒水4千日元起。

Kanazawa

金泽

Yamashita Restaurant, 2-23-5 Katamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa; 81-76-223-1461.

山下餐馆(Yamashita Restaurant), 石川县金泽片町2-23-5; 81-76-223-1461。

This world-class fish mecca is unostentatiously small and bare. Its stern, somewhat forbidding owner runs a very tight ship, and no English is spoken. But animated pointing at display cases will probably do the trick. Dinner and drinks, about 4,000 yen.

这个世界一流的海鲜胜地其貌不扬,风格简朴。餐馆主人不苟言笑,管理严格。这里没人会讲英语。不过,你只要动作夸张地朝摆在外面的餐点样品指一指,就一定能让他们明白你的意图。晚餐与酒水4千元左右。

Teriha Restaurant and Bar, 1-24-7 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa; 81-76-253-3791.

照葉酒家(Teriha Restaurant and Bar), 石川县金泽东山1-24-7; 81-76-253-3791。

Located in the historic wood-fronted district of the city, this wine bar with its beautiful, minimalist interior tends to fill up fast with the local A-list crowd. The owner, a former geisha, speaks some English. If you beg her for a shinobue (flute) recital, she may oblige. Drinks begin at 500 yen.

这个坐落在金泽木屋古城的美丽而风格简约的小酒吧通常总是充满了当地的一流酒客。艺妓出身的酒吧老板懂一点英语。如果你请她演奏一曲笛子,她有可能会满足你的要求。酒水从5百日元起。

Pub Dylan, 3-25 Katamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa; 81-76-222-0322.

迪伦酒吧(Pub Dylan), 石川县金泽片町2-3-23; 81-76-222-0322。

This small, friendly, deeply atmospheric watering hole is found in the city’s Shintenchi bar quarter. A rowdy crowd tends to form by late evening, and chatting is encouraged in whatever language you happen to speak. The Dassai sake (about 9,110 yen a glass) is out of this world. Other drinks begin at about 500 yen. Cash only.

这是一个非常友好而氛围热情的小小的灌酒处,处于新天地酒吧区。每天夜深以后,这里会聚集一群嘈杂的人群,无论你讲何种语言,都可以在此聊天。他们的獺祭清酒2千到3千日元一杯,是不世出的美酒。其他酒水5百日元起价。只收现金。

Choikichi, 2-8-18 Katamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa; 81-76-261-4900.

崔基地(Choikichi), 石川县金泽片町2-8-18; 81-76-261-4900。

This is old-school working-class Japan. A single standing-only counter, jars of pickled bar food and local workers sighing over sumo wrestling on TV. The owner is often referred to as Mom (in Japanese, of course) by the clientele. No English spoken. Snacks and drinks start at 200 and 300 yen respectively.

这是个日本老派工薪阶层的酒吧。只有一个站立式柜台,成瓶的腌制的下酒菜,当地工人站着一边喝酒一边观看电视相扑比赛。客人们叫酒吧老板做妈妈(当然是用日语)。这里不会讲英语。小吃和酒水分别为2百和3百日元。

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