Zatoichi was the blind swordsman who featured in a long running series of movies and in a popular TV series in Japan. Between 1962 and 1989 there were 26 movies with the role of Zatoichi being played by Shintaro Katsu . He also starred in most of the 100 TV episodes that were aired between 1972 and 1974. For viewers who are not familiar with Zatoichi , here is a brief description : The Zatoichi stories are set in 19th century Japan. Zatoichi is a wandering blind man who earns his living as a masseur and gambler and who, in spite of his blindness, is a formidable swordsman. Though he calls himself a gangster , he lives by a strict code of honor and uses his fighting skills to protect the poor and correct injustices . His lack of eyesight has sharpened his other senses and, singlehandedly, he mows down dozens of attackers while barely breaking a sweat . While his fighting skills are just barely credible , it is quite impossible for him to travel freely and do some of the other things as he does . Still , viewers are willing to suspend disbelief as they watch Zatoichi’s exploits .
Earlier this month , Fox aired the finale of its hit TV show Master Chef ( Season 3) and the winner was Christine , a 32-year-old blind graduate student . Winning such a cooking contest involves not only cooking skills but presentation skills because the food has to be plated attractively . It demands a great knowledge of food preparation techniques , an eclectic appreciation of cuisines , an eye for detail and the ability to work under pressure . Winning such a contest is difficult enough for a sighted person ; for a blind person , it is well-nigh impossible . If I hadn’t seen the show , I would never have believed it could be done . That Christine was able to do so makes her a real -life Zatoichi, as good in her own sphere as Zatoichi was in his.
I well remember the tryout for Master Chef aspirants when Christine was selected for the contest proper . When she tap-tapped her way to where the judges were stationed , they were taken aback and Gordon Ramsay remarked that it was a first time on the show for a blind contestant. While viewers ( including myself) were happy that she made it to the contest proper, I don’t think any of us thought she had a chance at winning the whole shebang. Week after week , I thought that this was the week when she was going to be eliminated .How she was able to peel, shell, cut , chop, bake , fry and plate so well is something I’m still finding it difficult to fathom.She had a couple of close calls but persevere she did, as others fell one by one . And along the way , she became the one we were all rooting for . Departing contestants are asked which one of the survivors they would like to see win the contest and many of them said it was Christine .
In addition to her cooking skills and her gumption in even daring to enter the contest , there were several things to admire about her. Yes , she was competitive and wanted to win , but she was not mean spirited in her comments as some of the others were. And she wanted to win the right way . In the semifinals , she had to select a partner in a tagteam match against another pair. If her side had lost , she would have had to go against her erstwhile partner in an elimination contest. In similar situations , others had picked a weak partner , so that if they lost they had a good chance of winning the head-to-head challenge . Not Christine . She chose Becky , the strongest of the others , because she said she ” was in it to win” . Even so , it was not until she made the final that I began to think she might win it all.
In the final , she was up against Josh , a 24-year-old ex -army man who was a worthy opponent . I liked Josh too and would have rooted for him had his opponent been anybody but Christine . For the finale , Josh and Christine had to cook a three course meal of their own devising for the three -judge Master Chef panel. After they presented their dishes to the judges for tasting, l didn’t give much for Christine’s chances. She had cooked an Asian -inspired meal that seemed plain when juxtaposed against Josh’s classic creations with a southern twist . On the other hand , Josh made a serious misstep when he added bacon pieces to his pecan pie dessert. I was relieved when Gordon Ramsay announced Christine was the winner because she must have won by the thinnest of margins .
The winner’s prize is a $ 250,000 check and an opportunity to publish a cookbook . I’ve no doubt Christine will write a cookbook and that it will be a success. But what will she do next ? Will she complete her master’s and work in her area of specialization , whatever it is ? Or will she open her own food business / restaurant ? I don’t know what path she will take but , whatever it is , I wish her well . She has been an inspiration to a lot of people and she deserves every bit of her success..