Katherine Tamiko Arguile is a Japanese-British-Australian arts journalist and author, who lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Her passion for Japanese food permeates through her work and it is this passion that people will see who attend the “Lunch on the Riverbank” event at the Oz Asia Festival 2022. A lot of her inspiration comes from the memories the Japanese food her mother cooked for her growing up. One thing which Katherine mentioned in a recent interview is that “In Japan, food is never just for: it expresses a complex history tied to tradition and spirituality”.
At the “Lunch on the Riverbank” event, there will be conversations with Katherine celebrating the release of her book “Meshi”, which is an exploration of food during her childhood. Oh and of course there will be food as well! In a recent interview with Katherine about her identity, Japanese food and her book, she speaks about her multiple cultural identities and why she decided to move to Australia after growing up in both Japan and the UK.
“I think the thing about Australia is that in addition to being happy I am here as it is my home, it is close to Asia, so I am closer to my home Japan as well. There is also a burgeoning diversity here with an exciting mix of people and to an extent I do feel I belong in Adelaide”, Katherine said.
“For who I am, the short answer is I am never sure what I am. I have been asked directly by people – what are you? And it is quite difficult for me to answer that. I was born and raised in Japan and I didn’t speak English till I was 5 years old. My mother is Japanese and my father is British, so being a mixed race child in the late 1960s I was also caught in the middle and I was not considered Japanese by Japan etc. It has always been a little confusing.”
And now to Katherine’s book “Meshi”, which isn’t her first book. Her first book was The Things She Owned. But on “Meshi” which are stories of her childhood and her connections to Japanese food, Katherine mentions that it is a tribute to the food she grew up with and the food she still eats everyday – Japanese food and the stories of her family and cultural history.
“Meshi is truly authentic Japanese food is kind of like soul food, but there is also some complexity to it as well. It is not necessarily something that people experience in restaurants, but it is something that is deeper and is family oriented. That is the essence of “Meshi”, Katherine discussed.
“It is interesting because this novel includes family stories rather than just purely recipes. As I began to write it, it opened so many memories and feelings that I had suppressed for a long time out of survival from having been really effectively amputated from my own native culture. It also helped me deal with the loss of my mother and this writing became a bridge back to the culture I was amputated from”.
Finally, Katherine discusses what takeaways she hopes people will have after reading “Meshi”.
“You know what everything passes and everything changes in life. That is the main message, I hope readers takeaway. I want to leave a feeling of home for readers and that life and food is a continual cycle. I also want readers to understand the extraordinary complexity, depth and beauty of Japanese cuisine”.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Katherine Tamiko Arguile’s novel “Meshi”, you can purchase it via this Booktopia link or go to: https://www.booktopia.com.au/meshi-katherine-tamiko-arguile/book/9781922400703.html .
Images via YouTube, Booktopia and Oz Asia Festival