Getting The Dirt On Soil Soup
Those in the world of cuisine are always searching for that one exotic dish or line of dishes that will make them famous. Tokyo's chef Toshio Tanabe has gone to what some might call the ultimate extreme -- using soil. This isn't some dirt that he dug up out of the garden. It is pristine soil that come from areas like the mountains and dug from far below the surface. He uses only the best soil in his soup!
Tanabe's cuisine may start with soil soup, but it hardly ends there. You can get a whole meal with a soil theme -- right down to the soil sorbet for desert. You might call it a "down to earth" idea.
For the past eight years Tanabe has been slowly introducing the idea for soil-based cuisine at his French restaurant located in downtown Tokyo. He used to go out and dig the soil himself, but now has it delivered to the restaurant daily by a supplier.
The soil is checked thoroughly for contaminants and heated to kill off any bacteria that may be lurking before Tanabe begins work. To create his soup he heats it gently to release the natural soil flavor and then strains it to remove any bits of sand that may disturb the palate. It is served with a touch of dirty fungus. Well, okay, truffle.
If you can stomach the soup course, it is time to move on. The favorite dish of the chef is potato balls with a bit of truffle inside served covered in a soil sauce.
Tanabe insists that the nutrient-rich soil is healthy for you and that it aids in digestion. Not everyone is a fan of eating dirt, but there are those who really dig it and enjoy the earthy feast. At approximately $110 a head it is a meal that doesn't come dirt cheap. His restaurant has long been famous for its seafood so now it can be considered the ultimate dining establishment for surf and turf.
While one day I could see myself working up the courage to try a bit of soil-based cuisine, I can't help but thing of days from my youth when my siblings and I treasured the shouted line "Eat dirt and die!" I also keep thinking that this should be the favorite restaurant of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
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Laurie Kay Olson
Clever Problem Solvers