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The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy Kindle Edition


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Length: 351 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Synopsis

One generation ago, sushia??s narrow reach ensured that sports fishermen who caught tuna in most of the world sold the meat for pennies as cat food. Today, the fatty cuts of tuna known as toro are among the planeta??s most coveted luxury foods, worth hundreds of dollars a pound and capable of losing value more quickly than any other product on earth. So how has one of the worlda??s most popular foods gone from being practically unknown in the U.S. to being served in towns all across America, and in such a short span of time? Sushi aficionados and newcomers alike will be surprised to learn the true history, intricate business, and international allure behind this fascinating food.A riveting combination of culinary biography, behind-the-scenes restaurant detail, and a unique exploration of globalizationa??s dynamics, journalist Sasha Issenberg traces sushia??s journey from Japanese street snack to global delicacy. The Sushi Economy takes you through the stalls of Tokyoa??s massive Tsukiji market, where the auctioneers sell millions of dollars of fish each day, and to the birthplace of modern sushia??in Canada. He then follows sushia??s evolution in America, exploring how it became LAa?

?s favorite food. Youa??re taken behind the sushi bar with the chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose distinctive travels helped to define the flavors of global sushi cuisine, and with a unique sushi chef blazing a path in Texas. Issenberg also delves into the complex economics of the fish trade, following the ups and downs of the hunt for bluefin off New England, the tuna cowboys on the southern coast of Australia who invented the art of tuna ranching, and uncovering the mysterious underworld of pirates, smugglers, and the tuna black market. Few businesses reveal the complex dynamics of globalization as acutely as the tunaa??s journey from the sea to the sushi bar. After traversing the pages of The Sushi Economy, youa??ll never see the food on your plate a?? or the world around you a?? quite the same way again.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1053 KB
  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1592402941
  • Publisher: Avery (3 May 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000V5076G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #237,984 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x975b6b88) out of 5 stars 33 reviews
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x970bc954) out of 5 stars A Whale of a Tale 6 May 2007
By viktor_57 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I love sushi, and I love economics, but even if I cared for neither, "The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy" would still be an entertaining and eye-opening read. A tale of culture, globalization, cuisine, and historical drama, "The Sushi Economy" traces back the modern explosion of sushi back to the 1970's. Although sushi had been sold by Tokyo street vendors in the 19th century, its rebirth as a culinary and cultural staple began when Japanese air shippers, after dropping off shipments of manufactured goods in North America, brought back North Atlantic bluefin tuna--at the time considered worthless and fit only for cat food--rather than fly home empty planes. Concurrent advances in refrigeration allowed seafood to be shipped large distances, and this increase in supply, along with a booming post-war economy, fueled Japanese demand for premium sushi and saw the rapid expansion of sushi bars throughout the country. Japanese overseas expansion brought sushi along with it and spawned a growing network of suppliers, including fishermen and the newer fisheries, and specialty distributors, as well as black market dealers and smugglers.

The seafood infrastructure, however, was only one part of the sushi explosion, as innovative sushi chefs became entrepreneurs, initially marketing sushi as a chic, upscale delicacy but then broadening its appeal by adapting to local flavors and cuisine.

Despite its specific origins from a small, island nation, sushi has become a global cuisine and the economy that supports it a global one as well. "The Sushi Economy" may be one of the best examples of this new, global economy at work as Issenberg traces the origins of the sushi on our plate, formerly an exotic delicacy but now almost as common as hamburgers, through the numerous retailers, distributors and suppliers back to the fishing grounds themselves, which may be half a world away. Yet despite this distance the innovations of the decentralized economy are able to bring you your fish within the small window of freshness that keeps a hundred-dollar-a-pound commodity from becoming cat food.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98e15c6c) out of 5 stars A Not-So-Ancient Delicacy in a Modern World Economy 25 July 2007
By Rob Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In _The Breakfast Club_ from 1985, Molly Ringwald's character brings her lunch to detention, but it isn't the typical brown bag the other kids have brought. It is a tray of sushi, and the rest of them are astonished, maybe because they have never seen such a food before. It is a scene that is now quaintly dated, even after only a couple of decades, because although a Big Mac might still be more the prevalent norm, and although sushi is still something of an exotic food, it is popular rather than mysterious. The way this came to be involves marketing, technology, and a shrinking planet, and is the story of _The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy_ (Gotham Books) by Sasha Issenberg. Sushi is based on raw fish, mostly tuna, but it isn't really fresh and it decidedly is not simple. This is not a book that will make you wince or feel guilty over your next tuna roll, and it may even beat the drums for globalization. We do have, even in small towns, the capacity now to enjoy this tasty delicacy, and as Issenberg writes, "In few places are the complex dynamics of globalization revealed as visibly as in the tuna's journey from the sea to the sushi bar."

The sushi story is the story of tuna, and Issenberg follows the fish backward from market to its origin in the sea. The main market is the Tsukiji which takes up 57 acres in Tokyo, where a few hundred buyers gather to take a look at tuna brought in from all over the world. This is a huge market of $6 billion a year, and one fish alone might routinely go for $30,000. The great change in the market came starting in 1972 when there was a first Tokyo auction of Canadian bluefin tuna, brought by plane from a region where the fish were considered worthless. The tuna, rice, and seaweed delicacy with which we are familiar, Issenberg says, "served by a sushi chef to a customer seated before him - is in fact no older than the California roll," which was itself an American invention of the 1960s. "Sushi had started as a form of preservation," Issenberg writes, "but it was becoming precisely the opposite: a way of using the infrastructure of modernity to chaperone a delicate dish around the world." This has resulted in overfishing, and attempts to farm tuna, "moving the ocean's biggest, fastest, toughest fish into a cage and keeping it there for months or years." Of course aficionados sniff at the quality of farmed tuna meat, but that doesn't matter to those who, say, like a cheap tray of tasty sushi from the supermarket.

There are wonderful profiles in this book, like the Caucasian tuna chef who successfully brought sushi to Austin, Texas, or the self-appointed sheriff of Libyan tuna poaching who uses Google maps to monitor illegal fishing, or the disciples of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon who entered the market in Gloucester, Massachusetts, or the champion tuna tosser at the Port Lincoln Tunarama Festival, or the star of _Iron Chef_ who is opening a sushi restaurant in Mumbai, or many more. Each profile shows how global an enterprise sushi is. Issenberg reflects: "To eat sushi is to display an access to advanced trade networks, of full engagement in world commerce." Sushi is now so prevalent as to be taken for granted; it is good to be reminded of how complex and how modern a story it really is.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x980630a8) out of 5 stars The economics of tuna 26 Oct. 2009
By M. Godon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I added this one to my to-read list at the same time as The Zen of Fish (by Trevor Corson), and I was a little worried that they'd be redundant, but they weren't really. They had some things in common - the history of sushi and the Tsukiji fish market - but I didn't think they covered too many of the same topics. This book focused a lot more on tuna, and it did discuss the economics of sushi much more. Each chapter discussed a different issue related to sushi: The Tsukiji market and some logistics of sushi, the history of sushi, fisherman in New England, tuna ranching in Australia, a sushi bar owner in Texas, and Nobu Matsuhisa. I would have marked the book much lower if he hadn't discussed the issue of sustainable fishing, but it is covered in depth near the end. Between the two books, I liked this one better. However, it doesn't have a story in the same way that the other did, which may make it a little harder to read for some; your mileage may vary.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9788272c) out of 5 stars Tuna around the world 12 July 2007
By Jon Hunt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the spirit of Mark Kurlansky's terrific books about the histories of salt, oysters and cod, comes this brilliant book by Sasha Issenberg about sushi. Sushi is the cover, but this is really about tuna, a fish once thrown back into the sea or simply thrown away. His book raises the bar and it is as comprehensive a look at the industry as one can get.

Having grown up at a time and in a place where sushi was unheard of, Issenberg rightly begins and ends his book in Japan. From the vast Tokyo fish market known as "Tsukiji" the reader is transported to Canada, Los Angeles, Gloucester, Spain, Australia, China and more. How did this once lowly fish attain such a high status? Sasha Issenberg tells us in a narrative style that is low-key but fascinating.

Economy is indeed a central part of this book and it is intriguing to read about the rise and fall of tuna as a commodity. But the personal testimonies, included here, make the book shine. Each chapter stands on its own but I was particularly drawn to the beginnings of shipping tuna from Canada to Japan in the early 1970s. These people were real pioneers in the industry and to think this has all occurred in my lifetime is equally admirable and impressive.

I highly recommend "The Sushi Economy". Sasha Issenberg has compiled a broad-based look at sushi...where it all began, where it is now and where it might be headed. It's a compelling work and a book not to be missed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972292ac) out of 5 stars Made me hungry! 30 April 2010
By T. F. Rhoden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well researched and just an enjoyable read. I read it before I had a trip to Japan just for something cultural and fun, and I found it interesting the whole way through--particularly about how that one guy at JAL was the main driver behind the design of the crates, airline logistics, and pricing to work for the fatty tuna product in terms of international shipping, allowing it to be transported from all across the world to reach the Tsukiji fish market in record time (though that just be the MBA side of me showing itself). You will find yourself wanting to hit up a sushi joint or two before you are done with the piece. Awesome book!
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