Kanoko Okamoto's A Riot of Goldfish comprises two novellas, one the eponymous one and the other eponymous to this blog's title. Eponymity, don't you know. At any rate, in The Food Demon, there's an intense young man called Besshiro who bullies his wife and wants to be known as Sensei. Unfortunately, in the Japan of his time, there's little respect accorded to a chef, even to one as skilled as he.
His best friend brought out the best in him:
The sorts of things he usually ate, such as soupe a l'oigninon served baked in a small bowl covered in cheese, rice with stewed ox tongue, or salad with haricots verts and vinaigrette, were easy enough for Besshiro to prepare. But dishes like duck simmered in duck blood or eel medallions with vinegared aspic were new to Besshiro and more challenging to make even with the detailed instructions his friend would rattle off from his bed. Simmering the duck blood on an alcohol burner made a rich and sticky broth, like a good red-bean soup, in which the slices of duck were cooked along with salt and pepper. He tasted the meat after cooking it very lightly and was surprised to find that it did not taste badly. His friend explained that it was the specialty of a famous duck restaurant in Paris and was considered quite an elaborate and extravagant dish.
Another time, Besshiro, insulted by what he considered the superficiality of an art lover's criticism, invites her and her husband to dine with him. He is convinced that she will reveal the shallow nature of her understanding of art, and is determined to outdo himself in his culinary attempt just to show her up:
But Besshiro proceeded on the assumption that the woman was a connoisseur and busied himself ordering foods that could stand up to a connoisseur's scrutiny, like moroko fish straight from the Moroko River in Sakamoto, and pepper tree bark from Kurama.
The woman looked impressed and thanked him as she began to eat. 'This catfish roe is gorgeous!' 'And the stewed ebi imo potatoes are exquisite!' As her lips took on a coat of oil from the kara-age, she said simply 'Delicious!' 'Delicious!' and ate on single-mindedly.