The tofu-like aesthetics

Insignificance and fragility that shed light upon the grandeur of the infinite world






My friend recently asked if I could only live with three types of food in the second half of my life, what would they be? I dwell on the question for so long, and the only kind of food that I came up with was tofu.


Tofu is dull in color and light in taste. Having tofu served in hot water instead of broth, then dip it in a sauce to enjoy the pleasant fragrance of bean. It would be quite inaccurate to say it is impressively delicious as it is, after all, a subtle dish. When having chilled tofu, I don’t even dip it in soy sauce. The only thing I would add to the chilled tofu is a pinch of salt or perhaps a dash of wasabi. My friends found both the hot and chilled tofu boring, neither do they go well with rice nor with drinks. It was rather difficult for me to argue against their thoughts, as this is a reasonable impression. However, when trying to imagine what kind of food I will enjoy for my remaining tens of years, I genuinely prefer the subtle essence and look of tofu rather than something colorful with a strong flavor. 

Luxury and excitement do not last; what remains is ordinary composure. The light flavor allows us to also carefully taste the water used to cook the tofu. The dull appearance of the dish can even give us the tranquility to observe the light reflecting on the water surface. Water reminds us of rivers and oceans, the reflection of light connects us with the cloud and the sun outside of the window. Insignificance and fragility can surprisingly shed light upon the grandeur of the infinite world.  

One day, I suddenly thought of tofu when talking about wabi-sabi with a friend. I guess it is because wabi-sabi is also representing the aesthetics of fragility; it deals with the question of adequacy, and it sees beyond the superficial presence.