10 Jun 2012
Sundays in Japan: Sushi and Beyond by Michael Booth
How was your week? I almost forgot today is Sunday as I'm suffering the revenge of the deadlines at the moment... I managed to see a little bit more of Belfast, though. And I managed to read a book over the course of the week - yes, a real book that I bought with a credit card and that was shipped to my HOME address by Amazon. Amazing, this fixed address thing!
The book was 'Sushi and Beyond' by Michael Booth, a foodie who set out to find out, as the subtitle says, 'what the Japanese know about cooking'. He travelled in Japan for a couple of months with his wife and two young sons, and I was very pleased to find out that he did not only travel to Kyoto and Tokyo, as I guess 80% of all visitors to Japan, but covered all the islands, including Okinawa (the tropical archipelago located halfway between Japan and Taiwan), which made me very jealous!
Whether you are interested in Japan or in Japanese food, this is a great read to find out about the subtleties of Japanese food. It explains the Japanese attitude towards ingredients and cooking techniques, but also the history of many typically Japanese foods, in something I would call a typically Bill Brysonesque charming travel writer style.
While it was a fun read, and I learned many things I did not know before, in spite of having read about 5,000 books about Japanese food, there were a few drawbacks:
There were way too many typos, sometimes to a point where it was hard to find out what the author was actually trying to say. And while I believe the food parts are backed on solid research, much of the other, more general information about Japan, and some of the language used, is not quite accurate (he names Fukuoka as capital of Kyushuu, for example - it's just the largest and prefectural capital). It also seems to specialise on Japanese cuisine in general and highlights fine dining experience while the author seems to not have gained any experience with Japanese home cooking at all.
Still, as a foodie book, it was a really fun, informative and unpretentious read!