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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, encyclopaedic and enlightening, 15 Jun 2007
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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Corson's fascinated with seafood, as his earlier book on lobsters demonstrates. Here, he casts his net through entirely new waters as he describes what sushi is, where it comes from and where it might be going. Spending three months as a "perpetual presence" in a California sushi school, he was able to establish close contact with staff and students. Supported by an avid research team, he's able to present nearly every facet of sushi from biology to service methods. Little is left unsaid in this book, but every bit is interesting and informative. Written in the best journalistic style you'll find this book worthwhile in many respects.

Among the first students Corson presents is Kate Murray, who lacks both cooking skills and confidence. She quickly learns that there are no short-cuts to sushi, even though the meal is composed of little but rice, mostly raw fish, some vegetables and simple sauces. Throughout the narrative, Kate seems to continually lag behind the other students, harassed by the impatient instructor - Toshi Sugiura. Sushi kitchen skills focus on knives, with each student possessing a kit of them. Sharpening is essential, as Kate learns the hard way. Her solution to her fear of knife sharpening is unique. She's also startled to learn that the image of sushi as "everything fresh" is false. Mold and infectious bacteria are essential to good sushi.

As the class struggles to keep up, Corson is able to introduce a wide range of supportive material relevant to what they learn. Sushi's history is complex and intricate, starting as quick meals from city street vendors. The move of Japan's capital from Kyoto to Edo [Tokyo], was but one of many divisions sushi would go through in Japan. There are also regional varieties, as well as those of customer class. Moving from street to restaurant also brought changes, not all of them universally welcomed. Even today, many women won't enter a sushi restaurant, partly because the staff and customers are male dominated. And often boisterous. Women chefs, such as Kate, and her classmate, Danish beauty Fie Kruse, are generally unwelcome. North American sushi restaurants are slowly modifying that traditional view.

Underlying the kitchen activities is the biology of what comprises the product. Corson provides information on rice's history, but his real flair is in describing the toppings placed on the rice. Shrimp, octopus and the multitude of available fish types both fresh and sea living each have their place and their handling in this book. There are no few surprises in store for the reader. What comprises the wasabi powder you can purchase in many North American shops? Are the salmon eggs crowning the rolls on your plate really from fish? Is tuna the true fundamental topping for sushi? These, and countless other questions, are raised and resolved. Except one - eels, a common sushi topping in Japan, but generally spurned in North America, have eluded domestication through "fish farming" practices. Nobody knows when, where or how they mate. Many other sea food mysteries, however, are undergoing examination and changes by suppliers, chefs and consumers. Pick up this book and be prepared for a challenge to your thinking and your taste buds. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good info, okay story, 23 July 2014
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History and information about sushi culture informative and useful (especially when I was in Japan!) I followed the etiquette as explained here and in the movie Jiro:Dreams of Sushi and was asked if I was a professional chef in restaurants in Japan because I looked like I 'knew sushi'. However the story following the rise and fall of a mediocre sushi school was far from inspiring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and interesting, 28 April 2014
By 
Andy Hayler "prose_lover" (London England) - See all my reviews
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I was a little concerned that this book would have an overly American slant, it being mostly set in a sushi school set up in California. However the author has done his research, had lived in Japan and speaks Japanese. The book alternates between telling the story of a class of students learning how to be sushi chefs in America, intertwined with general information about sushi, its history, etiquette and how it came to the US and has been adapted.

The writer has a fluent writing style, and there is a lot of background research that he and a team of three helpers have put in, which gives the book plenty of depth with regards to the more technical aspects of sushi and its role in Japan. As someone who has eaten quite a lot of sushi in Japan I certainly found plenty to learn from the book. It is remarkable just how much is involved in such a seemingly simple subject of some vinegared rice and (mostly) raw fish.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All you want to know about sushi, 3 April 2011
This is a great book for any foodie or just for the curious type. Not only do you learn about sushi etiquette, you also learn why you don't eat mackerel out of the water fresh but after some vinegar prep.

It is well written, well researched and exciting.
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