Sunday, July 9, 2017

Super Sushi Ramen Express: One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan by Michael Booth

When I first came across Super Sushi Ramen Express I was genuinely excited. I was looking for an interesting expose of food across the Japan. While I got a hint of that, it was a bit too superficial a journey.

There are some aspects that were great - the visit to the kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto, konbu harvesting in Hokkaido, and the creation of healthy salt.

But there were a few things in Super Sushi Ramen Express that got under my skin. In what was a fairly interesting piece about food and sumo, Booth keeps talking about these elite athletes as fatties. It really got in the way of what could have been a compelling story of their physical prowess.

There are also a few instances where an editor really could have helped with some Japanese facts -- for instance referring to stall restaurants as izakaya (that’s a pub), or saying that tenugui towels are headscarves (they can be used that way -- but it is NOT what they are.) These errors make me wonder -- are there other errors that I missed?

This book is an OK place to start exploring Japan and its food, but proceed with caution if you already know a lot about Japanese cuisine or culture.

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