Warren Buffett Hates Japanese Food

From TNR, concerning Warren Buffett:

He confines himself to the diet of an eight-year-old, refusing to eat anything much beyond spaghetti, hamburgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Schroeder describes a bizarre scene in which Katherine Graham escorted Buffett to dinner at the Manhattan apartment of Sony Chairman Akio Morita. Japanese chefs served plate after plate that Buffett left completely untouched. “By the end of fifteen courses, he still had not eaten a bite,” writes Schroeder. “The Moritas could not have been more polite, which added to his humiliation. He was desperate to escape back to Kay’s apartment, where popcorn and peanuts and strawberry ice cream awaited him. ‘It was the worst,’ he says about the meal he did not eat. ‘I’ve had others like it but it was by far the worst. I will never eat Japanese food again.’

Despite that pretty atrocious diet, Buffett appears to be relatively healyh at age 78. Maybe it’s due to his polygamous lifestyle.

31 thoughts on “Warren Buffett Hates Japanese Food”

  1. I am the first to admit Japanese food is an acquired taste for the uninitiated. Honestly, at age 15 I almost got sick eating my first piece of sushi because I had never eaten anything cold and raw like that before (and of course I had no prior experience with chopsticks). Today I eat just about any Japanese food and love it to death (with some notable exceptions), and am fiercely proud and defensive of my chopstick skills.

    I do not fault people for not liking it, but that does not stop me from trying to force people to try it at least a few times so they can develop into an omnivore like me. If I were around Buffett I would ask him to give it another shot.

  2. Durf: He may be from Omaha, but he’s not Mormon, so at least one part of the post should be surprising.

  3. Also I gotta say Buffett doesnt know eight year olds, who want nothing more than Cookie Crisp and cake frosting for breakfast lunch and dinner. Or was that just me?

  4. There is no polygamy described in that Wikipedia link. He lived with wife 1 until 1977; began shacking up with the new one after the wife left that year. The marriage with wife 1 lasted until she died in 2004; in 2006 he married wife 2. That wife 1 and wife 2 were on friendly terms doesn’t make any of that polygamy.

  5. Absolutely fascinating. Buffett didn’t even eat any of the food and he knew he hated it.

    “I am the first to admit Japanese food is an acquired taste for the uninitiated.”

    Adamu, I understand what you are saying but then again look at the number of Michelin stars in Tokyo. Clearly Japanese cuisine is appreciated outside of Japan in ways that other cuisines are not.

  6. I guess he is too rich to take a bite just to be polite.

    I see that Michelin rating issue as a mainly urban phenomenon. In other words, the sophisticated people in each country love Japanese food, but for meat-and-potatoes Americans it might be a stretch (and certainly was more so 12 years ago than it is today)

  7. I want to hear a Buffett & Buffett rendition of “Cheesburger In Paradise.”

    PS: I agree with Durf about the polygamy claim. Let’s not turn Mr. Buffett into Henry Miller just yet.

  8. I dunno.What I felt is this was soooo Morita-esque.
    If you go to the SONY building in Ginza,they have Italian restaurant on top.Only one Japanese food and that7s tempura franchise,Ten-Ichi.
    Morita loved to play the role of Japanese cultural ambassador/cultural nationalist when he’s in abroad and played cosmopolitan at home.Buffet’s taste of being all American has been legendary and Morita should have served cheese-burger made with Kobe beef or something,instead of testing Buffet’s cultural sensitivity.

  9. Don’t forget that a lot of the Michelin stars for Tokyo restaurants were for French and Italian restaurants, although of course the majority must have been Japanese food of some sort.

  10. I really hate seeing Japanese taking foreign guests to tea ceremonies,possibly the most boring Japanese cultural practice,even the tea tastes bitter.

    Thinking why Buffet’s private life being so American folk legend-like.I’d say he’s doing everything to maintain not just being the richest man alive,but the Oracle of Omaha status.Living in the same house since 50’s and driving chevy and drinking cherry-coke.He does anything George Solos does.And that’s part of his performance.

    Solos at heart a European,always wants to tell the world,”I’m-intelligent-and-has-golden-soul-inspite-of-being-a-zillionaire” and that’s the only way for the new rich to be respectable in class oriented European society.

    Buffet,on the other hand,wants to pretend that he’s just a face in the crowd.And telling everyone that if he can make a fortune,so can you by buying a share of Berkshire-Hathaway,which is the another name of the American dream.

    Morita,is the dude who wants to be the Japanese making it in America.Big flat display at Times Square,Buying Hollywood Studio,Write a book encouraging Japan to say “No” to America.Feding the richest man in America the full course of Japanese cuisine could have been part of the plan.Part of the plan telling the world that he’s no economic animal but the Japanese business man with attitude.

  11. The adventures of Akio Morita hobnobbing with Soros and Buffett and the gang need to be made into a manga series.

  12. “By the end of fifteen courses, he still had not eaten a bite,” writes Schroeder

    ‘It was the worst,’ he says about the meal he did not eat.‘I’ve had others like it but it was by far the worst. I will never eat Japanese food again.’“

    I don’t quite get it. On the one hand it says very clearly that he had not eaten a bite. On the other hand he’s quoted as it was by far the worst and that he’d never eat Japanese food again. This implies that he had perhaps eaten a little of this course meal in question or had other bad occasions with Japanese food prior.

    In Takayama there is a small traditional shop that sells noting but the Japanese rice cooked to perfection and red miso soup. The only thing they have to drink is hot green tea. This shop almost always has a line going out the door. Perhaps if the chefs had prepared this much simpler one course menu Mr. buffet would have been better satisfied with traditional Japanese cuisine. Some of the recent french infused traditional Japanese cuisine can be not only on the exotic side but at times still alive and moving as well. I think this may have been one of the reasons that former U.S. president Bush Sr. through up on the life of former prime minister Miyazawa during a state dinner in Japan years ago. The press says it was an intestinal flu that he quickly recovered from. But I think he may have been served something that was still squirming around in the dish and his first reaction was just to uncontrollably chuck up all over Miyazawa. Perhaps Mr. Buffet may likewise have been shocked by little squiggly things and lost his appetite. Maybe shrewd Japanese diplomats and the the elite aristocrats of Japan take great pleasure in shocking what they perceive as culturally inferior primitive westerners. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Morita had many a quite giggle after Mr. Buffet went home as they replayed his various reactions to different stages of their methodically planned out 15 course menu.
    Not giving enough thought to every angle to the dangle certainly wouldn’t be the Japanese mentality of even an average Japanese person let alone those such as the Moritas that are at the top of the barrel of Japanese society.

    Mr. Buffet also hates to drink coffee so I wonder as to whether he might not be a closet Mormon. Mormoans do consume caffeinated beverages of all kinds except coffee. Go figure!

  13. “Mormoans do consume caffeinated beverages of all kinds except coffee.”

    Coke is a no-no, according to some Mormons I talked with.

  14. Most of the Mormons that I have met do drink Coke and almost all other cold caffeinated beverages except hot coffee and hot black tea. I suppose since green tea contains caffeine and is hot that it is also forbidden but I’m not quite sure on this. For some reason apparently iced tea is okay but absolutely no coffee, no tobacco, no alcohol, and no sex unless you are married. Albeit their past definition of matrimony does have quite a bit of controversy involved. The following is an fairly interesting read on the matter of Mormon beverage consumption. http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/89

  15. Erin, knowing that Warren Buffett has a manga about him has made my day. Is there anything that hasn’t had a manga made about it?

  16. Actually, the interesting point about Buffett’s “two wives” is that wife 1 found wife 2 for him. Wife 1 was essentially overwhelmed with having to take care of a “big kid” and wanted her own life, so she found another lady in Omaha who would live with Buffett and take care of him. Eventually said lady became Buffett’s second wife, although they were practically living as a married couple even while wife 1 was alive.

    Buffett’s diet did give him serious colon problems which nearly killed him — back in the 80s, I believe.

    I read his biography over Christmas vacation. It is an enormous book, but fascinating throughout.

  17. That LSD site says “no hot drinks.” Ouch. What did Smith have against a mug of hot cocoa?

    Anyway, those Mormons I met definitely rejected Coke, so either they got it wrong, or there are different interpretations. I admittedly go out of my way to avoid meeting Mormons (literally: I have been known to cross the road when I see two Mormon missionaries heading my way), so don’t have a representative sample.

  18. “Is there anything that hasn’t had a manga made about it?”

    You don’t know the half of it.There’s a manga titled”バフェットの師匠と相棒”(Buffet’s mentor and buddies).It’s a manga about Benjamin Graham and Charles Munger.

  19. The other day I bought Curzon a copy of the 防衛白書漫画版 (Defense White Paper, Manga Edition), which was on sale at the Government Publications Center in Kasumigaseki.

  20. That place is a goldmine. I go there sometimes to browse.

    Anyway, do any of these manga involve the pope using ancient Catholic rituals to win extra shares of Berkshire-Hathaway on the high-stakes mahjongg table?

  21. Let me give you the e-mail of my college day buddy whose now working for Kodansha,Durf.We can sell this as Japan’s answer to Dan Brown,in manga format.

  22. “I really hate seeing Japanese taking foreign guests to tea ceremonies,possibly the most boring Japanese cultural practice,even the tea tastes bitter.”

    This was certainly the one thing I possibly hated about Japan the most. Middle-aged ladies dragging me to view things that they would never go to themselves in order to show me how much Japan reveres its traditional culture. It was particularly bad in the first year before I knew any better, and felt confident enough to refuse.

    Then again, I have dragged Japanese guests to traditional Maori cultural performances to show them how much New Zealanders revere “our” traditional culture, I suppose.

  23. “Then again, I have dragged Japanese guests to traditional Maori cultural performances to show them how much New Zealanders revere “our” traditional culture, I suppose.”
    I sometimes take visitors to New York to Katzi’s Deli, but that’s just an excuse for me to go.

  24. I was drinking maccha while watching the Sumo yesterday. This tournament is rocking.

  25. “This tournament is rocking.”

    Probably literally, considering what those people weigh….

  26. For some reason, I got the revised edition of Schroeder’s book as a Christmas present this year. Reading the part about the dinner, it’s clear that Buffet was embarrassed by his own behaviour but it was made worse for him because he “didn’t click” with Morita at all and couldn’t understand why Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham found him interesting.

    The book also has an account of Buffet’s visit to China with Bill Gates. Gates sent him a questionnaire beforehand about dietary requirements to which Buffet replied “I don’t eat any Chinese food”. Gates arranged for tour company Abercrombie & Kent to ensure that chefs along the way could prepare hamburgers and french fries. One evening, instead of the courses which everyone else received, Buffet was served plate after plate of french fries and he was happy. When he got to Hong Kong at the end of the trip, he immediately took Gates to McDonalds.

    Apart from the Morita dinner story, the only other mention of Japan is the story of a Japanese woman who flew to his office to get his autograph. She prostrated herself before him and then promptly had a fit. She wrote later to say her doctor had prescribed tranquillizers.

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