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My place at the table

Rachel Chalmers was recovering from an eating disorder when she went on honeymoon to Japan. She discovered a culture where food is an art form, and eating a practice in mindfulness, and it helped transform her relationship with food


By the time our feet first met Tokyo’s soil after 10 hours of air travel, my husband and I were exhausted, but this was the first day of our honeymoon and there was no way we weren’t going to explore the city. We asked our hotel concierge to provide a dinner recommendation and he handed us a torn slip of paper covered in Japanese characters. We shrugged, piled into a cab and – sleep-deprived drones – passed our driver the note.

As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, I was hit by a wave of panic. The scent of hot oil filled the blistering summer air and the plates in front of our fellow diners were filled with mountains of battered food. The hotel had sent us to one of Tokyo’s first dedicated tempura restaurants and, with little knowledge of the Japanese language, we had no choice but to be seated as the smiling staff ushered us to our table.

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