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The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacyby Sasha Issenberg
Synopses & Reviews
From the sea to your plate, the first international tour of sushi's journey in the global marketplace.
One generation ago, sushi's narrow reach ensured that sports fishermen who caught tuna in most of the world sold the meat for pennies as cat food. Today, the fatty cuts of tuna known as toro are among the planet's most coveted luxury foods, worth hundreds of dollars a pound and capable of losing value more quickly than any other product on earth. So how has one of the world's most popular foods gone from being practically unknown in the U.S. to being served in towns all across America, and in such a short span of time? Sushi aficionados and newcomers alike will be surprised to learn the true history, intricate business, and international allure behind this fascinating food.
A riveting combination of culinary biography, behind-the-scenes restaurant detail, and a unique exploration of globalization's dynamics, journalist Sasha Issenberg traces sushi's journey from Japanese street snack to global delicacy. The Sushi Economy takes you through the stalls of Tokyo's massive Tsukiji market, where the auctioneers sell millions of dollars of fish each day, and to the birthplace of modern sushi — in Canada. He then follows sushi's evolution in America, exploring how it became LA's favorite food. You're taken behind the sushi bar with the chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose distinctive travels helped to define the flavors of global sushi cuisine, and with a unique sushi chef blazing a path in Texas. Issenberg also delves into the complex economics of the fish trade, following the ups and downs of the hunt for bluefin off New England, the tuna cowboys on the southern coast of Australia who invented the art of tuna ranching, and uncovering the mysterious underworld of pirates, smugglers, and the tuna black market.
Few businesses reveal the complex dynamics of globalization as acutely as the tuna's journey from the sea to the sushi bar. After traversing the pages of The Sushi Economy, you'll never see the food on your plate — or the world around you — quite the same way again.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] fascinating read that enlightens as much as it whets the appetite." Seattle Times
"Often entertaining...at times painfully detailed and deliberate." New York Times
"Fish-loving optimists will enjoy Issenberg's work." Boston Globe
"[A] clear, engaging account of the business behind one of the world's most popular foods." Dallas Morning News
"[A] fascinating and highly readable book about the world's relatively recent appreciation for raw fish and fermented rice." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This is one of those rare books that reveals a vast and fascinating system behind something you've entirely taken for granted. The Sushi Economy is not just a book about our growing appetite for raw fish — it's a brilliant look at globalization in practice." Steven Johnson, bestselling author of The Ghost Map and Everything Bad is Good for You
Jumping from Mediterranean docks to the multimillion-dollar tuna auctions of Japanese fish markets, The Sushi Economy traces sushi's journey from Tokyo street snack to global delicacy. 8-page photo insert.
About the Author
Sasha Issenberg has written for Slate, the Washington Monthly, Philadelphia, and George, where he served as a contributing editor.
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