For anyone who ever thought they might be moved to homicide by the perky stylings of Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee, take heart: Here is your palate cleanser.
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This video is dedicated to homegrown, homemade takenoko — harvesting, preparation and cooking of fresh bamboo shoots, which bear no resemblance to the floppy planks you find in mu shu pork. It has a lot more in common with the graceful delicacies of a lemongrass bulb or an artichoke heart.
Full disclosure: I am a longtime fan/adoring acquaintance of Xeni Jardin, co-founder of the ever-fabulous blog known as BoingBoing. And to celebrate the 150th episode of the site’s daily video show, BoingBoing TV, Xeni produced this extraordinary segment. "This is not linkbait," she said. I respectfully disagree.
The farmer and chef is Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, "World of Warcraft" fanatic and chairman of Six Apart Japan (Six Apart is the parent company of Typepad, which hosts this blog), among many other internet trailblazing habits; the clip’s original soundtrack is by Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose credits include "Babel" and the Oscar-winning score of "The Last Emperor."
As Xeni puts it,
"We eat bamboo shoots out of cans and from crappy Chinese restaurants. The video shows it as something that looks succulent and precious.
"A couple of years ago, I saw Joi post on his blog about the fact that it was springtime in Japan and he was digging up shoots for takenoko. It seemed like such an evocative thing to share — here’s this guy who’s always on IRC or blogging and he oversees three ‘World of Warcraft’ fields at all times on a dedicated monitor. He’s the most digital person I know and he’s doing this bold and earthy thing.
"He tweeted something that it was takenoko season and I said we should ask him if he wouldn’t mind shooting a short video. He graciously obliged. We thought about maybe editing it like ‘Iron Chef’ or something, but we kept coming back to the idea that the footage was beautiful and pure on its own. And then one day he said, ‘I’m going to hang out with Sakamoto-san in New York; maybe he has some leftovers from ‘The Last Emperor’ hanging around.’
"We sent him a rough cut, and he said, ‘I want to do something for it. Please give me some creative direction immediately.’ Ryuichi Sakamoto was asking us for creative direction immediately! And he gave us this music that captures the bud of the root as it’s being unearthed from the ground, the clang of the garden tools in the earth and the solitude and the loneliness of this beautiful bamboo groove in Joi’s backyard. The process was so casual and we were working with this great master. It exalted this silly little home video."