Monday, October 29, 2007

The Zen of Fish - Trevor Corson

The Basics: The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi from Samurai to Supermarket, Trevor Corson, 2007, 372 pages, hardcover

How I found it: When I was looking into The Sushi Economy, I discovered this book as well.

What's it about?: Unlike The Sushi Economy, this book is more about the sushi and less about the fish. It is a thorough explanation of how to make different types of nigiri sushi, maki and sashimi, the history behind sushi, and how it became globally popular, especially in California. Corson uses a class of students at the California Sushi Academy as a launching point for each of his sections. As the class learns about making non-traditional rolls, Corson launches into a history of fusion sushi. Within the class, the book primarily follows the hapless Kate, a 20 year old wannabe sushi chef. However, other characters in the class, the teacher, and the master chef are all profiled as well. Corson's book gives a face and a personality to sushi chefs while explaining the clinical precision behind their art.

Did I like it?: I really enjoyed this book. I am a huge sushi fan - it is far and away my favourite food. I thought I knew a lot about sushi and sushi culture, but this book proved me wrong: I have a lot to learn and I learned a lot from this book. Of course, this book also made me incredibly hungry. The descriptions of the food preparation are meticulous while remaining interesting, if a bit gross at times. I also enjoyed the human factor of including the experiences of the student chefs - it brought a human element to the book that I thought was mostly lacking in The Sushi Economy.

Will you like it?: If you have ever eaten sushi this book is a must read. It explains the history and preparation of everything you have eaten, and it does so in a very compelling manner. I couldn't put this book down and it is likely you won't have any trouble getting through it either.

But don't take my word for it: The usual industry blurbs and reader reviews from amazon, a review from the blogger Canuck Librarian, one from Maclean's, another from the UK's Independent, one from the New York Times, one from the fabulous Lotus Reads, and a collection of favourable reviews from Corson's website.

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