Book Reviews

Super Sushi Ramen Express

Micheal Booth is one of the best floodwaters in the English-speaking countries of the world.

In Super Sushi Ramen Express, a partially seminal, fully entertaining, authoritative, often funny travelogue, the author reveals how Japanese feel and behave about food. He writes about Japanese food, culture, and orderliness. Even the shinkanzen (bullet trains) stop at marked spots on the platform for passengers to enter the train easily and unencumbered.

He took his family (wife Lissen, and two children Asger and Emil) and travelled to Japan for six weeks, from Hokkaido (Sapporo in the north) to Tokyo, Osaka, Matsusaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa Island ( to the south) to experience Japanese food, agriculture, cooking, retailing and much more.

The idea came about when his Japanese friend in Paris told him about the obsession of his countrymen with seasonality, freshness of, and refinement of food. He describes in this 36-chapter book his experiences and how Japanese chefs go about creating dishes by paying undivided attention to seasonality, purity, presentation and taste.

In his well flowing narrative, you will not find any recipe, but you will be delighted in how he describes his dining experiences with knowledgeable and influential people, or similarly on his own, to see how Japanese treat foreigners interested in their culture, and more specially food.

The description of world’s largest and busiest fish market just outside of Tokyo is absolutely fascinating, as is the story about Kobe beef. Japanese have an obsession with impeccable, blemish less fruit, for which they pay small fortunes.

There are other gems only an observant writer can write about i.e no one expects a tip, streets are clean, everyone is polite, and they will never cheat you. And there is more. Taxi drivers know their way and get you where you want to go, sales people make you believe they want your business and will go to great lengths to get it.

The chapter on MSG (monosodium glutamate) reveals the secret of taste and how this white powder helps to increase it. You can eat MSG-containing food with confidence; millions do it frequently and survive.

Did you know there are still 20000 American soldiers stationed in Okinawa where the fiercest battles of the World War II took place.

All these and more are in this fascinating and superbly crafted book.
Once you start reading it, you won’t stop, guaranteed!

Highly recommended.

Buy it now before it is out of print.

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