Japan is arguably the preeminent food nation on earth, a Mecca for the world's greatest chefs, with more Michelin stars than any other country. The Japanese go to extraordinary lengths and expense to eat food that is marked both by its exquisite preparation and exotic content. Their creativity, dedication, and courage in the face of dishes such as cod sperm and octopus ice cream is only now beginning to be fully appreciated in the sushi and ramen-saturated West.
Food and travel writer Michael Booth takes the culinary pulse of contemporary Japan, learning fascinating tips and recipes that few westerners have been privy to before. Accompanied by two fussy eaters under the age of six, he and his wife travel the length of the country, from bear-infested, beer-loving Hokkaido to snake-infested, seaweed-loving Okinawa. Along the way, they dine with - and score a surprising victory over - sumo wrestlers; share a seaside lunch with free-diving, female abalone hunters; and meet the greatest chefs working in Japan today. Less happily, they witness a mass fugu slaughter, are traumatized by an encounter with giant crabs, and attempt a calamitous cooking demonstration for the lunching ladies of Kyoto.
©2016 Michael Booth (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
I've been a fan of Michael Booth's writing for a while, as well as Ralph Lister's narration, so had high expectations here, which weren't disappointed. On occasion, things stray towards, if not into, the weeds on the foodie front, but nothing to cause one's ears to glaze over. His self-deprecating humor reminds me of American writer Eric Weiner (The Geography of Bliss), with a dash of Tim Moore. Lister's narration made audio an easy "win" here.
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