Trevor Corson is not a writer as much as he is a seafood expert, and both The Secret Life of Lobsters and The Story of Sushi have quickly achieved best seller status on the strength of the interesting information they carry. Sushi has only been a part of American cuisine for a few decades, and there are surprisingly few comprehensive perspectives that treat the history, the cooking, and the art. Corson's book amply fills this void, as long as you are listening to it as a piece of reportage more than a novel with a plot.
Whatever faults there are in the writing, the telling does not compound them. Brian Nishii has as few narration credits as Corson has author credits, but you'd never know it. He handles the many facets of this book with energy and agility. One strand running through the book is a straightforward factual account of the history of sushi, both as traditional Japanese cuisine and as modern American trend. A second strand is the more scientific description of the different varieties of seafood and their assorted properties. The third strand attempts to humanize the difficulty of the art of making sushi by following a class of beginners through sushi school.
Tokyo-born Nishii nails all the pronunciation with ease and fluidity. Fans of sushi will be relieved and possibly embarrassed to learn the proper way to order and eat their food. The helpful tips abound, from the fat content of each fish to what you are really eating when you eat wasabi to the importance of the radish garnishing your plate. There is also a heaping dose of amusing facts. For example, the phrase "mac daddy" actually comes from the idea that the skin of the mackerel is very shiny, and salmon is actually a white fish that turns pink for the same reason flamingos do.
Nishii also deftly handles the Japanese-Australian accent of a pop star turned sushi school chef, a strange and delightful sound to the American ear, delivering a relatively satisfying gem of a portrait amidst Corson's cast of flat characters the timid depressive who can't do anything right, the 17-year-old kid taking this class to impress girls, the beautiful stoic from Finland who executes each roll to perfection, the hard-working sous chef destined to find a job right after graduation, et cetera. The more informative two-thirds of the book certainly make up for Corson's missteps in the sushi school thread, and Nishii's voice work will reassure you that next time you sit down at the sushi bar, you'll be at the head of the class. Megan Volpert
Everything you never knew about sushi: its surprising origins, the colorful lives of its chefs, and the bizarre behavior of the creatures that compose it. Trevor Corson takes us behind the scenes at America's first sushi-chef training academy, as eager novices strive to master the elusive art of cooking without cooking. He delves into the biology and natural history of the edible creatures of the sea, and tells the fascinating story of an Indo-Chinese meal reinvented in 19th-century Tokyo as a cheap fast food. He reveals the pioneers who brought sushi to the United States and explores how this unlikely meal is exploding into the American heartland just as the long-term future of sushi may be unraveling.
The Story of Sushi is at once a compelling tale of human determination and a delectable smorgasbord of surprising food science, intrepid reporting, and provocative cultural history.
©2007 Trevor Corson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"The combination of culinary insights and personal drama makes for one of the more compelling food-themed books in recent years." (Publishers Weekly)
I was thinking if to give 3 stars or 4 stars. I decided to go with 4 stars because in general it was quite entertaining and it is not authors fault that I don't like sushi and eating raw fish is not my idea of fun. The plot is weak and somewhat boring. Information about sushi was entertaining, but not brilliant. I do not have regrets that I bought this audiobook, but I will not listen it again, I guess. I will continue to prefer thai food over the best sushi:).
I read non-fiction almost exclusively
Follows a girl as she goes through an American sushi school. I expected to have more information about how sushi originated. You do get information here and there in between what the girl learns in class. Nevertheless, a fine story
This is not a history book but rather a story that deftly frames information on sushi making through the context of a narrative. The narrator really brings the story and characters alive, which makes it an easy listen. While the author tends to romanticize the art of sushi making he does convey his enthusiasm in the topic. My only gripe is that I felt they could have gone into sushi making further.
Enjoyable, fascinating, structured
Kate was my favourite character because she was so real and down to earth
History, geography, biology human interest rolled into one.
Compelling story. I learnt so much about fish, rice, soya sauce, miso as well as sushi. I will never eat sushi and sashimi again without thinking about this book. I loved it.
This book was not what I expected. I thought I would hear nothing but the history of one of my favorite foods, but instead I was treated to the story of a girl named Kate as she learned to be a professional sushi chef by attending a sushi academy in California. The history of the food was presented as an aside to the story, which was entertaining and educational.
Kate's story has ups and downs, elation and insecurity, but most importantly, it centers around the lesson that was should never give up on ourselves or our dreams. I know that sounds very Disney-like for a book about the history of sushi, but Trevor Carson interweaves Kate's story with so much history and information that his work could be used as a textbook.
I learned a great deal, not only about the history of sushi, but about the art of it. I learned how a sushi chef looks at it, and how the chef hopes that his/her customers will approach it. Personally, I will never eat sushi the same way again. I learned about mistakes I was making that inhibited my full enjoyment of this unique cuisine, how to order properly at a sushi bar, and the differences between true sushi and Americanized sushi.
The narrator did an impressive job narrating the general story line and voicing the different characters. Brian Nishii made me feel as though I were there with Kate struggling through sushi school and wishing I were better at constructing the rolls. Every character had his or her own style and I feel as though I know the characters personally, which is as much a feat of Nishii's as the author's.
The only reason that this book did not receive a full five-star rating is because of the course language and unnecessarily vulgar descriptions that were included. This occurs in sparse patches, but it was a distraction to what could have been a perfect listen. For those with little ones at home, you shoudn't play this audiobook aloud around them, which is a shame, because otherwise, it might have been a book that children might have enjoyed listening to, and it could have been used as a way to interest them in food and cooking.I am of the firm opinion that the F-bomb and sexual descriptions of women and seafood are not appropriate in the first place, but they are all the more inappropriate in a book about the preparation of fine cuisine.
Overall, anyone interested in the topic of sushi or cooking would find this to be an engaging and informative read. Anyone interested in the challenges female chefs face in the male-dominated arena of sushi would also find this story intriguing. It's not a bad listen for the storyline or the information as long as you fast-forward through the vulgar bits.
I fell in love with this book. I'm huge fan of sushi and anything Japanese. The book is a good balance of story telling and education. The author goes in depth about the biological make up of the fish, getting into scientific detail that was a little beyond me at times. The author balanced out the book with personal stories and experiences of different Sushi chefs which kept the book personal. I loved how a lot of the history and stories tied back to Los Angeles and LIttle Tokyo,as I'm an Angeleno. Overall great book, kept you interested from start to finish and gives you some great take aways on Sushi etiquette
Great at narrating and using his voice to simulate different accents or personalities. Was also great at pronouncing all the Japanese words. Felt very authentic to the spirit of the book.
Fear is the mind Killer, so Face Your Fear
the understanding and level of detail the Japanese have put into the understanding of taste and health.
The New Zealander. I like his driving ways.
the intricate taste of sushi
You will enjoy the book. you learn about sushi and that what we generally have in america is not traditional Japanese sushi
I would be interested in seeing what other titles Trevor Corson has written.
I found the parts of the story about the students of the sushi academy sort of corny and silly but I was more interested in the historical components of the story.
I doubt this story would translate well to a movie or TV series unless perhaps it were a reality tv show where prospective sushi chefs are put in a competitive environment.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, and learned a lot about one of my favorite types of food that I never knoew.
Who knew there was so much to know about sushi? While the trite story about the personal life of the main character is distracting, the overall information and history about sushi outweighs those negatives. You'll never look at raw fish the same!
I learned alot about the food science of asian cuisine. I am a sucker for a book that seems designed for an educated audience. I suspect I will listen to more books by Trevor Corson.
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