After years of persecution, wolves are howling anew across Europe – and in the north of Norway an unusual zoo park is bringing them face-to-face with their nemesis: us
I arrive after dark, driving past piled up snow and pull up by a darkened log cabin office. No one comes out. I turn off the car lights and step into the freezing air. As my eyes adjust to the Arctic night, I see a green glow in the western sky, at first just two smudges on either side of the valley, a cosmic reptilian blush that grows into a phosphorescent super-highway that vaults across the snow-capped peaks. It is my 10th wintertime visit to the Arctic and, at last, I’ve seen the aurora.
At that moment a 4×4 comes up the road driven by my contact, Stig. “Follow me in your car,” he says softly. “At the top, when we get out, don’t make sudden movements or noises.”
The secret to Japanese food is specialising in one thing and doing it perfectly. Forever. In an extract from his new book Rice, Noodle, Fish, Matt Goulding profiles four masters of their trade
There are a dozen factors that make Japanese food so special – ingredient obsession, technical precision, thousands of years of meticulous refinement – but chief among them is one simple concept: specialisation. In the west, where miso-braised short ribs share menus with white truffle pizza and sea bass ceviche, restaurants cast massive nets to try to catch as many fish as possible but, in Japan, the secret to success is choosing one thing and doing it really well. Forever.
The concept of shokunin, an artisan deeply and singularly dedicated to their craft, is at the core of Japanese culture. Japan’s most famous shokunin these days is Jiro Ono, immortalised in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but you will encounter his level of relentless focus across the entire food industry. Behind closed doors. Down dark alleyways. Hiding in every corner of this country. The 80-year-old tempura man who has spent six decades discovering the subtle differences yielded by temperature and motion. The 12th-generation unagi sage who uses metal skewers like an acupuncturist uses needles, teasing the muscles of wild eel into new territories. The young man who has grown old at his father’s side, measuring his age in kitchen lessons. Any moment now, it will be his turn to be the master and, when he is, he’ll know exactly what to do.