The joy of cooking brings people together.
Yutaka is a salary-man, hardworking but lonely. He doesn’t have any friends of his age and feels anxious and uncomfortable around his work colleagues, to the point where even eating around other people is a struggle. He yearns for companionship and friends, but finds himself blocking the world out to protect himself. His one passion is food, and although he doesn’t feel comfortable eating in front of others, he does love to cook. One day in the park he runs into Tane, a young boy who strikes up a conversation with Yutaka. After giving Tane some food, which the boy considers to be the best he’s ever had, Yutaka slowly and quietly builds a friendship with Tane and his older brother, Minoru.
Minrou and Tane are brothers, but have a vast age gap. Their father lives with them and ever optimistic, does his best with the boys, and their mother passed away when Tane was very young. The boys miss the mother they missed out on, and Yutaka, doesn’t speak to his family at all. He was adopted at a young age and the other children in the house never accepted him and he’s been struggling with socializing ever since. Through their shared traumas and love of food, Yutaka teaches the Udea boys how to cook and fall in love with food, and the brothers help Yutaka open up, become excited for things again, and fall in love.
I adored every page of this. Give me 20 more volumes and I’d read them all. The slow burn of the romance in this is so poetically done, yet it isn’t the focal point of the story at all! Learning to love yourself and those around you is the prominent theme, as well as the idea of a ‘found family’ and learning who to share the things you love with those you love. It’s absolutely beautiful that the romantic love story comes second in this, which is something we don’t often see. The pacing was perfectly done, and when I was finished reading this I felt so warm and cozy inside.
Please read it. It’s a treat.
Title: Our Dining Table
Author: Mita Ori
Three Descriptors: Heartfelt, Found family, Cozy