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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 nineteenth-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.

Topics: Food History, Gastronomy, Fishing, Fish, United States of America, Japan, Tokyo, Informative, and Creative Nonfiction

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061962042
List price: $10.99
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This was a very difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, the author writes in a knowledgeable manner about an interesting subject, but on the other, the book was so poorly written as to be virtually unreadable in large segments. Perhaps he could have taken a different context—writing as a purely documentary account of the history of sushi, which one would expect from the title and blurb on the back, rather than following an up-and-coming bunch of sushi chefs from Los Angeles' California Sushi Academy. Maybe his writing is indicative of some form of discomfort with the subject material at hand—stilted wording and sentences structured in a painfully boring way could be an attempt to write formally instead of comfortably.Why, then, does this warrant a 3.5-star rating? This is one of the more interesting books about kitchen life that I've read, and I do love sushi. The subject material is fascinating and through this book I learned of the California Sushi Academy—which I would love to attend if I had six grand and twelve weeks at my disposal. Corson is obviously knowledgeable about the material, which means that in addition to the "insider view" gleaned from following the chefs-in-training around the kitchen, a different "insider view" is acquired through the copious amounts of background knowledge. The information under the writing is fascinating; it's a pity that the writing itself is so bad.more
I don't often read non-fiction books, but I saw this book and couldn't resist. The best thing is, it doesn't read like a non-fiction book. The story line of a woman learning how to make sushi is intertwined with snippets of about the history of sushi both in the US and in Japan. Who knew a book could be both so entertaining and informative. It also made me crave real, traditional sushi, so beware of this additional consequence of reading this book.more
This is a fantastic book. It contains a little bit of fiction in the way of students attending a sushi course at the American Sushi Academy. Through their daily lessons at the academy, we are introduced to the history of sushi, its evolution from fish stored in fermented rice to the food that we are familiar with today.We get lessons in mold, its importance to the Japanese chefs as far back as 1200 years ago, how bonito flakes are made, the role that kelp plays in creating a Japanese broth known as dashi, why the human tongue savors glutamate, the biology of different marine life commonly used as nigiri sushi toppings, why some fish are considered delicacies and others snubbed, the introduction of shellfish and mollusks, and what do we really know about the green condiment that comes in a little pyramid on a sushi plate? From how to wrap sushi, how to cut different kinds of fish, slice squid and why sushi chefs slap geoducks before serving, this book has all the intricate details together told in a most conversational style. The author includes cultural notes on how to eat sushi, what the pickled garlic really is for, how sushi chefs look at their clients before deciding how to form the sushi that will fit the client's style, and why they have the green leaves.The fiction adds rather than detracts from the book, and actually forms really good segue points from one topic to another in the ongoing saga of the world of sushi.I found this completely fascinating. It's given me a great insight into the food that I enjoy eating and now that I know some inside information into sushi, I am better informed now as to what I should be and should not be eating.more
A quick and easy read on the history of sushi in the United States as it follows a group of culinary students at the California Sushi Academy in Los Angeles. I would recommend reading this along with The Sushi Economy by Sasha Issenberg.more
Read all 12 reviews

Reviews

This was a very difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, the author writes in a knowledgeable manner about an interesting subject, but on the other, the book was so poorly written as to be virtually unreadable in large segments. Perhaps he could have taken a different context—writing as a purely documentary account of the history of sushi, which one would expect from the title and blurb on the back, rather than following an up-and-coming bunch of sushi chefs from Los Angeles' California Sushi Academy. Maybe his writing is indicative of some form of discomfort with the subject material at hand—stilted wording and sentences structured in a painfully boring way could be an attempt to write formally instead of comfortably.Why, then, does this warrant a 3.5-star rating? This is one of the more interesting books about kitchen life that I've read, and I do love sushi. The subject material is fascinating and through this book I learned of the California Sushi Academy—which I would love to attend if I had six grand and twelve weeks at my disposal. Corson is obviously knowledgeable about the material, which means that in addition to the "insider view" gleaned from following the chefs-in-training around the kitchen, a different "insider view" is acquired through the copious amounts of background knowledge. The information under the writing is fascinating; it's a pity that the writing itself is so bad.more
I don't often read non-fiction books, but I saw this book and couldn't resist. The best thing is, it doesn't read like a non-fiction book. The story line of a woman learning how to make sushi is intertwined with snippets of about the history of sushi both in the US and in Japan. Who knew a book could be both so entertaining and informative. It also made me crave real, traditional sushi, so beware of this additional consequence of reading this book.more
This is a fantastic book. It contains a little bit of fiction in the way of students attending a sushi course at the American Sushi Academy. Through their daily lessons at the academy, we are introduced to the history of sushi, its evolution from fish stored in fermented rice to the food that we are familiar with today.We get lessons in mold, its importance to the Japanese chefs as far back as 1200 years ago, how bonito flakes are made, the role that kelp plays in creating a Japanese broth known as dashi, why the human tongue savors glutamate, the biology of different marine life commonly used as nigiri sushi toppings, why some fish are considered delicacies and others snubbed, the introduction of shellfish and mollusks, and what do we really know about the green condiment that comes in a little pyramid on a sushi plate? From how to wrap sushi, how to cut different kinds of fish, slice squid and why sushi chefs slap geoducks before serving, this book has all the intricate details together told in a most conversational style. The author includes cultural notes on how to eat sushi, what the pickled garlic really is for, how sushi chefs look at their clients before deciding how to form the sushi that will fit the client's style, and why they have the green leaves.The fiction adds rather than detracts from the book, and actually forms really good segue points from one topic to another in the ongoing saga of the world of sushi.I found this completely fascinating. It's given me a great insight into the food that I enjoy eating and now that I know some inside information into sushi, I am better informed now as to what I should be and should not be eating.more
A quick and easy read on the history of sushi in the United States as it follows a group of culinary students at the California Sushi Academy in Los Angeles. I would recommend reading this along with The Sushi Economy by Sasha Issenberg.more
I quite enjoyed this book. It's an interesting mixture of narrative, history and science all related to sushi. I especially enjoyed the science and history, and while the narrative provided a framework for this information, it felt kind of juvenile at times.more
I really enjoyed the information about the history of sushi and the variety of fish that is used. As usual, Trevor Carson makes a story out of a non-fiction topic that leaves the reader learning more about a subject than they realize. I rated this with 3 1/2 stars because of the sections on the student he chose to follow. Her story did not add anything to the book and I was tempted to skip those sections. Overall, a very interesting book -- especially for sushi lovers.more
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