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7 Manga To Improve Your Cooking

by Lynzee Loveridge,

If I'm being honest, cooking wasn't a major part of my upbringing, and now I'm an adult with zero experience outside of boiling pasta and putting Prego on it. If you've already got some cooking chops, or have zero experience with an oven (what are all these dials for?), Japan has you covered with a variety of series spanning all experience levels and budgets. You too can leave behind the world of Lean Cuisine for something tastier!

7. Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki: One of the longest running manga ever, Oshinbo chronicles the culinary adventures of a journalist as he seeks to complete the "Ultimate Menu." The series works better as a look into the world of cooking than an outright recipe guide. Viz Media published seven volumes, organized by topic, and they cover the staples of Japanese cuisine like ramen, sake, and rice. If you already have an idea of how to cook, but want to know more about the history and details, it's definitely worth a look!

6. Iron Wok Jan! by Shinji Saijyo: Iron Wok Jan! is definitely a series if you want to expand your cooking horizons. Some of the recipes are usable, like ANN's Jason Thompson attempted with guidance, while others are more interested in shocking audiences with their unorthodox ingredients. The manga itself isn't pushing food education, and you'll have to do your best to imitate the instructions in the story instead of referring to a recipe appendix. If you aren't finicky, give the coconut milk stir-fried eel and lotus root a shot.

5. Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Sōma by Yūto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki: Food Wars! is by all means a silly, perverted take on food competitions. The characters regularly experience what can only be described as "foodgasms" whenever they eat the main character's cooking. That said, the actual cooking shown isn't without its merits, but it's something I'd suggest for chefs with a little more experience in the kitchen. 1 good example is in volume one, where the recipe calls for making your own gelatin (known as aspic) from boiling chicken bones. The recipes aren't too difficult to follow, but every example dish in the manga is supposed to creative and high-end, which in turn means the recipes included are more time intensive.

4. Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi and Natsumi Ando: If you have absolutely no idea how to cook anything, Kitchen Princess is the cutest crash course available. Each volume will teach you the fundamentals, like sugar cookies, onion gratin soup, peach pie, and banana bread. There is a slant towards baking because, well, sweets are just cuter and this is a shojo manga. There's plenty of romantic drama as the orphaned Najika takes on the prestigious Seika Academy culinary school and searches for her "Flan Prince." Of course, the manga teaches how to make that, too.

3. Addicted to Curry by Kazuki Funatsu: If your stomach has a hunger, and the only thing that can cure that hunger is cooking every kind of curry under the sun, look no further. Addicted to Curry, as its implies, really only specializes in one thing. However, who knew there were so many varieties beyond "green," "yellow," and "red?" The easy-to-follow illustrated instructions teach readers how to make green tea curry, keema matar, vindaloo, and fish head curry. The story itself follow Yui and Makito as the work hard to keep the failing Ganesha curry shop from closing by making really, really good curry.

2. What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga: What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a cookbook masquerading as a drama, or maybe vice-versa? The story follows the hardworking and exceptionally frugal Shiro as he cooks delicious Japanese food for his boyfriend and the other people in his life. The recipes are pretty easy, and because of Shiro's approach, they're not too expensive either but some might require a visit to your local Asian market. The hardest part is that the recipes are presented in dialogue instead of offered as a summary after each chapter, so cooking with only the manga as your guide could be equated with reading the transcript of a cooking a show.

1. Cooking Papa by Tochi Ueyama: Another long-running manga (with over 100 compiled volumes), Cooking Papa follows the secretly adept chef and salaryman Kazumi Araiwa as he cooks delicious meals for himself and his family, but passes it off as his wife's work to coworkers. The series was pretty popular, inspiring both an anime and a live-action drama. The recipes shown in the series are included in the back of the volumes, but the Japanese recipe service Cookpad teamed up with the manga last year to offer all the recipes in one easy-to-reach spot. The volumes cover cuisine from all over the world and make for a great reference to improve readers' cooking.

The new poll: Which Winter 2015 anime are you most looking forward to?

The old poll: Last week we asked "Which dog Pokémon is the best?" with the "best," being subjective to the voters. The classic Arcanine won over all!

  1. Arcanine 37.6%
  2. Lucario 23.8%
  3. Houndoom 10.8%
  4. Growlithe 9.7%
  5. Mightyena 3.9%
  6. Lillipup 2.6%
  7. Manectric 1.9%
  8. Smeargle 1.6%
  9. Poochyena 1.6%
  10. Furfrou 1.6%
  11. Stoutland 1.2%
  12. Houndour 1.1%
  13. Snubbull 0.8%
  14. Electrike 0.7%
  15. Herdier 0.5%
  16. Granbull 0.4%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Associate Editor for Anime News Network, blogs about women and LBGT topics in anime and manga on her blog Engendered Dilemma, and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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