Known for its extravagant dishes and outlandish reactions to food, “Food Wars” (“Shokugeki no Souma”) has caught the attention of anime fans and chefs across the globe. While the story has been praised for its delicious cuisine, some of its dishes are bound to summon Gordon Ramsay and receive a slew of poetic insults from the world-renowned chef himself. Between the famously known peanut butter squid and the slithering snake dish, it’s no surprise that no one would even dare to put this in front of a judge.
Or would they? Maybe these foods we see as gross might not be as bad as we think and even be a gateway into creating dishes that are worth sharing on social media. We’re diving into each “failed” dish in the first season of “Food Wars” (available to stream on Hulu and Crunchyroll) and telling you why you should take a second look at these horrifying concoctions.
Squid Tentacles and Peanut Butter (S1, E1)
Where appetizers usually prime the appetite before a meal, this infamous dish of squid tentacles and peanut butter is so vile that it brings its eaters a different type of sensation — a bad one. It’s so vile that it’s the first dish presented in the entire anime. The opening scene of the most popular food anime known to fans is Yukihira Souma (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka), the main protagonist, cooking and eating squid tentacles dressed in peanut butter in disgust.
Why It’s Not So Bad
Peanut butter is rich in flavor, while squid is incredibly light. Without careful preparation, using these two ingredients would result in one overpowering the other. In this case, the rich peanut butter would mask the flavor of the squid. While it would be overbearing, the potential for squid and peanut butter to be palatable is not entirely off the table. With some additional seasonings like sesame oil and soy sauce, both flavors could meld well and make for a tasty appetizer. Just make sure you taste it before giving it to your friends.
Dried Sardines and Strawberry Jam (S1, E1)
To compete with Souma’s dish, Souma’s father, Yukihira Jouichiro (Rikiya Koyama), whips up a delectably un-delectable dish that appears in the first episode, just moments after Souma feeds his squid tentacles to his unsuspecting friend. This dish, Jouichiro proclaims, is something much worse: dried sardines with strawberry jam. In true competitive spirit, Souma still thinks that his dish is much worse than his father’s.
Why It’s Not So Bad
Dried fish has an extremely intense flavor. Fans who watch “Food Wars” are told several times that removing water from an ingredient concentrates its “umami” — a flavor that’s usually associated with foods like meats and mushrooms. If you were to remove moisture from fish, you’d be left with an ingredient that’s salty, savory, and slightly pungent. The sweet and slightly tart flavors found in the strawberry jam could mellow out the saltiness in the fish and may even remove some of the pungent aftertastes from the fish. For people who already don’t like seafood, this dish would be a pass. However, it’s still worth a try for those with an adventurous palette.
Snake Dish (S1, E15)
As a surprise, Jouichiro visits Souma at Tohtski Culinary Academy and cooks up a meal for him and the residents living in his dorm. Most of the dishes are delicious and satisfy everyone’s appetite — except for one. The snake dish Jouichiro presents is a horrid main course made of boiled snake meat with the skin on. Served in a bowl of broth and scallions, it’s deemed by both Souma and Jouichiro as one of the top 10 worst dishes in existence.
Why It’s Not So Bad
In a world where every dish is rich in flavor, sometimes there needs to be a palette cleanser. Pickled ginger, for example, is often used as a palette cleanser between different types of fish. The same logic can be applied here to Jouichiro’s snake dish. With so many foods in “Food Wars” being overwhelmingly delicious, having a single dish as plain as a boiled snake in broth with scallions can have the same palette-cleansing effect and allow people to enjoy more food without being overwhelmed with rich flavors.
Bonus Dish: Jet-Black Curry Laksa (S1, E21)
This dish is not originally listed as a “failed dish” in the series, but its deceptive appearance and horrifying smell make it worth an honorable mention. Jet-Black Curry Laksa is a dish served by Sadatsuka Nao (Saori Goto), a fellow Tohtski student alongside Souma. Its putrid stench is thanks to a variety of fermented fish, an ingredient not commonly seen in curry or laksa. The result is a dish with a scent that is only described in the anime as “concentrated sewage.”