For Udon and Country [VIDEO] | Civil Eats

For Udon and Country [VIDEO]

My partner and I have had the amazing pleasure of taking our documentary series about sustainable food around the world. We posted our announcement here on Civil Eats a few months back, but now we’ve actually had a chance to hit the road and wanted to share one of our recent highlights with you.

Our first trip was to Japan, where we (among other things) visited the restaurant of Tetsuo Shimizu. A Twitter friend (@Drtomostyle) had done a little research for us and found this special man who grows his own wheat and produces his own Udon for the restaurant. Only an hour or so outside of Tokyo, we decided to take a look, and immediately we knew we had a story. Shimizu San welcomed us with a warmth that isn’t always easy to find in Japan. As he showed us around his tiny restaurant and introduced us to his wife, he made us feel at home, cracking jokes in a Japanese/English hybrid. We actually had to wait several hours to taste his masterful noodles as the restaurant quickly became very busy. So we filmed as local customers filed in to try the traditional fair, and waited our turn at trying it ourselves.

When the crowds had departed, we sat down and tried the 3 dishes available: Udon with local vegetables and mountain yam; Udon in its own broth; and Dry udon with dashi. That’s all the restaurant offered, and all you really needed. The noodles left us satisfied and intrigued by the simplicity. Beyond the taste of tradition, we were most inspired by Shimizu San’s words as he walked us through his fields of wheat and buckwheat, explaining his need to farm and to operate his restaurant. Neither was mutually exclusive — they were dependent on each other and necessary for keeping the farm land in his community.  Space is limited in the surrounding areas of Tokyo (and in Japan, in general). Rather than see his community turn into the Japanese equivalent of strip malls, Shimizu San wanted to preserve the beauty that he grew up with.

I’ve said too much, watch the movie:

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Daniel Klein is a chef, activist, and filmmaker living in Minneapolis. He has cooked in the restaurants of Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, and Tom Colicchio. For his current project, Daniel has been documenting his culinary, agricultural and hunting explorations on film in a web series called The Perennial Plate. Every week he covers a diverse set of sustainable stories from squirrel hunting to community gardens. Follow him on Twitter @perennialplate or Facebook. Read more >

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