⟨ Secret Place ⟩

Animals and Food in the Cafe

Cafe Kosora

Words and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

才坐下來,母雞便繞到我們的桌子下,朝我們瞄了一眼,看我們不為所動,沒有餵食的打算,牠就踱步回停車場去了。數個月前,這只母雞還有牠的伙伴們,還是住在咖啡廳的室內的,關在近入口處的籠子裡。這天到來時籠子卻不見了,原來牠們快高長大,現在已可於咖啡廳的庭園、農場、停車場自由進出了。

這家我們常到的咖啡廳名叫小空,在名古屋守山區一個很鄉下的地方。原本這區綠樹成蔭,但十多二十年前給大舉開發,山林被推倒,農田上種出了一幢幢住宅,犧牲了自然綠林,卻繁榮不起來。我常開玩笑說,這是一個只有巨型麥當奴及百元迴轉壽司連瑣店的地區,日本近郊一式一樣的風景。可喜的是,森林公園被保留下來,原來山林內的湖泊池塘沒有填滿,大大小小的,散落在公園裡、公路旁,而小空就建在馬路旁邊,一個池塘畔。

我們坐在露天的位置,點了午餐後便面對著池塘發呆。一隻白鷺紋風不動地佇立在池塘的對岸,近處一對鴨子正在爭吵,住在小空的幾隻貓兒乘著好天氣在停車場裡曬毛皮,隨著店主來上班了三頭秋田犬,則在我們旁邊的狗房裡睡懶覺。蝴蝶在飛鳥在叫,秋日乾躁的涼風,午後溫暖的太陽,偶爾狗兒失控亂吠,偶爾飛來的蜜蜂引來客人們騷動⋯⋯在工作過於擁擠的日子裡,我們特別想念時而寧謐時而吵雜的小空。

小空讓我們感覺與自然及動物親近,有時卻因為感覺太親近而心生罪疚。於停車場旁邊的農田裡,有小空的菜園,種植著咖啡廳供應的蔬菜,另外還有雞屋及豬屋。兩家豬屋裡分別住了兩頭黑豬,入秋後,路上不時能撿到橡果,撿到了便留給黑豬作點心。跟豬多踫面了,似乎能從牠們臉上的贅肉之中看出表情來,餐盤上的那塊肉,再細小,彷彿也流露出喜怒哀樂。小空不常提供肉類料理,間或料理裡混了數片豬肉,離開前總忍不住去探訪豬屋。一、二、三⋯⋯四,還好,在我肚裡的不是牠們。憂心忡忡用過數次餐,之後便仔細了,是日午餐的菜單上含有雞或豬的,便直接跳過,選素菜餐。

日本電影《小豬教室》,老師要孩子一起養豬,養肥後最終送到屠房去,從而教導孩子珍惜食物與生命,感謝那些為自己死去的動物們。我想我是又嘴饞,又學不會這平常心,才招至在點餐時如此戰戰兢兢。

Once we sat down, a hen came under our table and stared at us. Realizing we had no intention to feed her, she slowly hovered back to the carpark. A few months ago, the hen and her friends were still living inside a cage placed near the entrance of the cafe. In our recent visit, the cage was gone. The chickens have grown a lot, therefore, they are now allowed to wander freely around the cafe courtyard, the farm, and the carpark.

This cafe that we frequently visit is called Kosora. It is located in Moriyama, a rural area in Nagoya. This area used to be surrounded by green, however, since around ten to twenty years ago, the ward has undergone a drastic scale of development. The trees were torn down and replaced by residential buildings around the farmland, but the sacrifice of the woods failed to plant the seeds of prosperity. I often jokingly say, this is an area of massive McDonald’s restaurants and cheap conveyor-belt sushi chains, which is a typical scene in the rural areas in Japan. The forest park is luckily left unharmed. The ponds of various sizes can be found inside of the park and also next to the road; Cafe Kosora is exactly situated by a roadside pond.

We were sitting in the outdoor area, which provided the perfect spot to stare blankly at the pond while waiting for our order to arrive. We saw an egret standing across the pond in an upright posture, whereas closer to us were two ducks in a verbal fight. To enjoy the nice weather, the cats living in Cafe Kosora were sunbathing in the carpark, and the cafe owner’s three Akita dogs were taking a nap in the doghouse. In the cool autumn breeze and blissful sun, butterflies were flying and birds were singing. The dogs would sometimes get agitated and bark loudly, the bees occasionally caused a stir among the customers… During the days when we are swamped with work, we would have a stronger desire to come back to Cafe Kosora, which is tranquil at times and a bit chaotic at times.

In Cafe Kosora, we feel so close with nature and the animals. The consequence of such closeness is, ironically, a sense of guilt. Next to the carpark are Kosora’s vegetable fields, chicken coop and two pigsties that accommodate four black pigs. In autumn time, we would pick up some acorns from the ground to treat the pigs. The more we meet the pigs, the more we can tell their emotions from their chubby faces. When seeing a piece of meat in our plate, even if it is a tiny piece of meat, we are somehow reminded of the emotion of the animals. Cafe Kosora seldom offers meat dishes, but when we see meat in our food, we would surely visit the pigsties before leaving. We would count, one, two, three, and four, and got relieved that we did not eat any of them. After having a few anxious meals, we began to be careful with ordering by going for the vegetarian option to avoid having any chicken or pork.

In the Japanese film School Days with a Pig, the teacher invites his students to raise a piglet at school until it grows fat enough to go to the butcher. His idea is to teach the students to cherish food and life and be thankful for the animals’ sacrifice. Being a foodie who fails to find my peace of mind, I still feel uneasy when ordering my food.