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The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy Hardcover – May 3, 2007
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This debut from a promising young investigative reporter at Philadelphia magazine depicts gleeful, gluttonous globalization in all its glory. Visit Tokyo's world-famous Tsukiji fish market, experience the weird world of tuna-tossing in Southern Australia, and relive the birth of modern sushi in Prince Edward Island. Fans of Japanese cuisine and popular economics alike will find much to love in this delectable nonfiction adventure. --Jason Kirk --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this intriguing first book, Philadelphia-based journalist Issenberg roams the globe in search of sushi and takes the reader on a cultural, historical and economic journey through the raw-fish trade that reads less like economics and more like an entertaining culinary travelogue. In the years since the end of WWII, the practical protein-and-rice delicacy once unknown outside Japan has become so commonplace that the elements of its trade affect a far-flung global network of fanatics, chefs, tuna ranchers and pirates. While the West reached out for things Japanese, from management techniques to Walkmans, the growth of the market for quality fish, especially maguro, the bluefin tuna beloved by sushi eaters everywhere, paralleled Japan's rise from postwar ruin to 1980s economic powerhouse and into its burst-bubble present. Issenberg follows every possible strand in this worldwide web of history, economics and cuisine—an approach that keeps the book lively with colorful places and characters, from the Tokyo fish market to the boats of North Atlantic fishermen, from tuna ranches off the coast of Australia to the sushi bars in Austin, Tex. He weaves the history of the art and cuisine of sushi throughout, and his smart, lively voice makes the most arcane information fascinating. (May)
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Top customer reviews
Sushi was, at one point, just a local Japanese street food and the tuna fish that is most commonly used for making it, was sold at scrap value. However, currently, this fish is one of the most expensive ones in the market while sushi has found its way to the best Michelin star restaurants, scattered all over the world. The book traces the sushi’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most luxurious dishes on the menu in the 21st Century.
Being an experienced and a credible journalist, Issenberg, has brought the same curiosity and an interesting writing style to this book. The vivid and detailed narration takes into account every aspect of the sushi business – right from the catching and transportation of fish to serving that sushi on the plate! Readers will be able to vividly imagine the Tsukiji fish market and the religious arrangement of the dish on the plate. It’s all out there for the reader to imagine, smell and taste.
The book vividly discusses the Tsukiji fish market that covers 57 acres in the capital city of Japan and trade worth $6 billion are annually carried out over here. Along with that, it beautifully narrates how the sushi has changed over the years – from taking birth in the 19th century to being revamped when Japanese planes came back with North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna instead of flying back empty. Meant for the foodie, the economist and the hungry reader as well, this book is nothing less than a delight to read.
What sets this book apart from most of the other sushi guides is that it is not just a bland narrative on the development of sushi into a globally loved dish, but also takes into account the tiny details like kitchen scenes in the restaurants as well as how it has taken advantage of globalization to enjoy the enviable position that it has today. A bonus is that this book also discusses the economics of sushi deeper than many others out there on the bookshelves.
This review was originally written for 27Press.com.
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.