a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Fermat's Cuisine [Fermat no Ryori] (2018)
Yugo Kobayashi

This four-volume manga series (also recently adapted as a melodramatic Japanese television series) follows a student named Gaku who has given up on his dream to become a world-famous mathematician and instead goes to work for a world-class chef. I have not read the manga, but did watch the first episode of the TV show which came to America on Netflix in 2023. Let me summarize the first episode:

Growing up with a relatively poor single father in a small town, Gaku always said that his dream was to go to the University of Tokyo and become a mathematician. Through his father’s sacrifice and his own mathematical talents, this dream seemed close to being realized. His tuition was paid for by the elite high school he attended with the understanding that he would represent the school at the Math Olympiad. However, during the trials to select participants, Gaku had a sudden realization that he was not good enough and would never become a famous mathematician. To punish him for giving up, his school not only expelled him but also insisted that he pay his past tuition, which he and his father obviously cannot afford.

This seems to leave him in quite a pickle. Fortunately for him, Chef Kai is on campus to discuss an upcoming reservation with the school’s director. He happens to see Gaku preparing his version of naporitan (i.e. spaghetti with sausage in a ketchup sauce) and immediately knows that he will be an amazing chef himself. Through a combination of trickery and some additional servings of Gaku’s naporitan, he gets Gaku re-admitted to the school. Inspired by Kai's kindness and confidence in him, Gaku decides to reject the offer of admission from the University of Tokyo and instead goes to work for Chef Kai. But (da da DUM) when Kai discusses the situation with his (shirtless) investor, it sounds as if his actions on behalf of Gaku might not have been altruistic after all!

Two remarks:

  • There is definitely supposed to be some interplay between the math and the cooking. When Gaku first eats some of Kai’s cooking, he becomes surrounded by cheesy looking floating equations and mathematical symbols. And, when Kai advises Gaku to think of cooking as a math problem — to “solve backwards” to get the desired result — he has an epiphany and comes up with the new idea of marinating the spaghetti in mayonnaise and vinegar before preparing the naporitan.
  • There are several bad lessons (IMHO) in Gaku’s decision to quit math. For one thing, I do not like the idea of math as a competition with someone being "the best". IMHO Math research is a collaborative effort where we all work together as a team and advance our collective knowledge. Anyone who enjoys math should be part of the team and contribute what they can. Also, I would argue that this focus on innate mathematical ability undervalues the roles of practice, learning, and “luck” as factors of success as a professional mathematician. (You might not consider me to be in a position to say such things. After all, I'm not terribly successful as a research mathematician myself and this might just be "sour grapes". If so, please consult this essay with a similar message written by Fields medalist Terence Tao.)
I haven’t yet read the manga or seen any episodes besides the first one. If I do, I may update this entry with more relevant information. If you are familiar with the manga or TV series, please use the links below or just send me an e-mail with any other relevant information that should be posted on this website.

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Works Similar to Fermat's Cuisine [Fermat no Ryori]
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Midnight Diner (Episode: Omelette Rice) by Joji Matsuoka (Director) / Marina Oshima (Screenplay)
  2. Crash Course in Romance by Je Won Yu (director) / Hee-Seung Yang (writer)
  3. Hajime's Algorithm by Mihara Kazuto
  4. Golden Math [Suugaku Golden] by Kuramaru Tatsuhiko
  5. Proof Geometric Construction Can Solve All Love Affairs by Takahashi Manbou (lyricist) / Ane Manbou (illustrator)
  6. Enigma: La strana vita di Alan Turing by Tuono Pettinato / Francesca Riccioni
  7. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  8. Let's Play With Numbers [Suuji de Asobo] by Murako Kinuta
  9. Kim Possible (Episode: Mathter and Fervent) by Jim Peronto (script)
  10. The Phantom Scientist [Le Chercher Phantôme] by Robin Cousin
Ratings for Fermat's Cuisine [Fermat no Ryori]:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

MediumTelevision Series or Episode, Graphic Novel/Comic Book/Manga,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)