Oishii: The History of Sushi
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“What was once a lean food of green cylindrical geometry has become, in some instances, an amorphous dripping creature with twice the calories, sodium and cholesterol of a McDonald’s hamburger” writes Eric C. Rath in this detailed, serious, but readable history of sushi.
Rath, a professor of premodern Japanese history, nimbly addresses the linguistic as well as culinary origins of sushi, which likely began as a fermented fish dish; rice seems to have been added at a later date and was not considered essential even in the 19th century, at which point other grains and starches were still frequently called for. Regional variations have also been remarkably common, featuring not only a wide range of fish and vegetables, but many different methods of preparation.
Change has only accelerated as Japan has become part of a global economy and its food and people have migrated to every continent. Whether what gets sold as sushi in the street stalls of Bangkok or the supermarkets of Houston would be recognized as such by a Japanese traditionalist is an open question.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.