The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy

Overview

The highly acclaimed exploration of sushi’s surprising history, global business, and international allure

One generation ago, sushi’s narrow reach ensured that sports fishermen who caught tuna in most of parts 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 did one of ...

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The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy

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Overview

The highly acclaimed exploration of sushi’s surprising history, global business, and international allure

One generation ago, sushi’s narrow reach ensured that sports fishermen who caught tuna in most of parts 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 did one of the world’s most popular foods go from being practically unknown in the United States to being served in towns all across America, and in such a short span of time?

A riveting combination of culinary biography, behind-the- scenes restaurant detail, and a unique exploration of globalization’s dynamics, the book traces sushi’s journey from Japanese street snack to global delicacy. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Steve Johnson
One of those rare books that reveals a vast and fascinating system behind something you've taken entirely for granted. . . . Brilliant.
Wall Street Journal
Eminently readable . . . anecdote-rich and quirky.
Entertainment Weekly
An authoritative, expertly reported account of this increasingly global business, with the smart elegance of a dinner at Nobu.
Publishers Weekly
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) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592403639
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/17/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 798,460
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sasha Isenberg is a journalist at The Boston Globe and has written for Slate, The Washington Monthly, Inc., Philadelphia, and George, where he served as a contributing editor.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: World Gone Raw     ix
The Freight Economy
Prince Edward Island, Canada: The Day of the Flying Fish, The birth of modern sushi     1
Tokyo, Japan: Tsukiji, Shopping at a global market     15
Narita, Japan: The Hub, How Narita Airport became Japan's top fishing harbor     31
Tokyo, Japan: Fast-Food Metropolis, Feeding sushi's hometown     47
The Food Economy
Los Angeles, California: Are You Ready for Rice Sandwiches?, How sushi became the favorite food of the capital of the twentieth century     79
Paradise Island, Bahamas: New Style, How a Japanese-Peruvian Angeleno created a global sushi vernacular     107
Austin, Texas: Lone Star, The education of a sushi shokunin in cowboy country     131
The Fish Economy
Gloucester, Massachusetts: Imperfect Storms, Weathering boom and bust in the hunt for Boston bluefin     165
Port Lincoln, Australia: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, How the tuna cowboys became tuna barons     195
Madrid, Spain: The Raw and the Crooked, On the trail of pirates, launderers, and tuna's black market     225
The Future Economy
Dalian, China: Port of Call, A Japanese mogul plots to take the world's last sushi frontier     253
Epilogue: Tokyo, Japan   Raw Deals     269
Acknowledgments     283
Notes     291
Bibliography     301
Index     309
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2010

    Food and International Relations

    I'm not a "foodie", however, this book received a great review in the "Washington Monthly", my favorite periodical, so I decided to pick it up. I like sushi, but now I have a greater respect for all it represents.

    Fun to learn that the needs of JAL cargo found a partial solution in the waters off Nova Scotia.Certain Tuna is extremely popular in Japan, less so in Canada. Advances in cargo transport allowed JAL to help satisfy a Japanese need. As Japanese tastes changed, different fish were harvested and flown in, fresh. Sushi restaurants were popular in some cities on the West Coast, and eventually gained popularity nation-wide, even in cities far from either Coast. I'll let the reader discover why; some reasons are surprising.

    Issenberg spends more pages describing Tokyo fishmarkets, traditions and personnel than perhaps necessary for the general reader, still the writing is so good the pages fly buy. Summing up: a great, fun, fascinating read!

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    Posted December 23, 2009

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    Posted April 21, 2011

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