From Publishers Weekly
In 1986, two years out of college and restless at her job with an ad agency, Riccardi left New York to spend a year in Kyoto, where she lived with a Japanese couple and attended an elite school devoted to the study of kaiseki, a highly ritualized form of cooking that accompanies the formal tea ceremony. From her adoptive "family" she learned about Japanese home cooking and Kyoto's food markets. At the kaiseki school, she was introduced to an art form in which everything is symbolic, from the food and utensils to the colors of the guests' kimonos. Immersion in Japanese cuisine taught her about the country's history, culture and art as well as its cooking, so that even a meal in an ordinary restaurant left her feeling that she had "visited a museum, heard a fascinating lecture, opened several gorgeously wrapped gifts, and consumed the essence of spring in Kyoto." In her delightful and unusual culinary memoir she includes 27 recipes. A few, such as summer somen with gingered eggplant, are for dishes she was served at a Zen temple. Some, including miso-pickled romaine stems wrapped with smoked salmon, and red and white miso soup with sea greens, are from kaiseki meals in which she participated. Others, such as chicken and rice egg bowl, "Japan's quintessential comfort food," are representative of everyday fare. Although many of the ingredients used in these recipes are unusual, Riccardi, who writes for such magazines as Eating Well and Bon Appetit, makes them sound worth searching for.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“I relished every page. Victoria Riccardi’s prose reflects the same spirited, nuanced, intelligent style that she discovered on a pilgrimage to the heart of Kyoto’s tea kaiseki cuisine.”
--Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
“As Victoria Riccardi goes in search of culinary enlightenment in this intimate and beautifully crafted memoir about living, cooking, and falling in love with Kyoto, the reader is seduced and transported by the scenes and flavors she paints with words. Riccardi writes with a sensuous eye for detail that brings alive the extraordinary beauty of Japan and the sumptuous pleasures of its table.”
--Lora Brody, author of Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet
“Victoria Riccardi writes from the heart. A personal story of determination and discovery, Untangling My Chopsticks
offers a refreshing glimpse into the tastes, intrigues, and traditions of modern and ancient Japan.”
--Elizabeth Andoh, Japan correspondent, Gourmet
magazine, and author of At Home with Japanese Cooking
“Victoria Abbott Riccardi’s Untangling My Chopsticks
folds back the screen on a city and its traditions just enough to satisfy our curiosity without diminishing the mysterious allure. Her friendships and experiences are recounted with delightful delicacy, and the kaiseki meal and tea ceremony come alive not only as cultural rites but also as delectable gastronomic and esthetic experiences.”
--Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of On Rue TatinFrom the Hardcover edition.