Zen of Fish : The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket

Overview

Everything you never knew about sushi—its surprising origins, the colorful lives of its chefs, the bizarre behavior of the creatures that compose it—is revealed in this entertaining documentary account by the author of the highly acclaimed The Secret Life of Lobsters.

When a twenty-year-old woman arrives at America's first sushi-chef training academy in Los Angeles, she is unprepared for the challenges ahead: knives like swords, instructors like samurai, prejudice against female...

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Overview

Everything you never knew about sushi—its surprising origins, the colorful lives of its chefs, the bizarre behavior of the creatures that compose it—is revealed in this entertaining documentary account by the author of the highly acclaimed The Secret Life of Lobsters.

When a twenty-year-old woman arrives at America's first sushi-chef training academy in Los Angeles, she is unprepared for the challenges ahead: knives like swords, instructors like samurai, prejudice against female chefs, demanding Hollywood customers—and that's just the first two weeks.

In this richly reported story, journalist Trevor Corson shadows several American sushi novices and a master Japanese chef, taking the reader behind the scenes as the students strive to master the elusive art of cooking without cooking. With the same eye for drama and humor that Corson brings to the exploits of the chefs, he delves into the biology and natural history of the creatures of the sea. He illuminates sushi's beginnings as an Indo-Chinese meal akin to cheese, describes its reinvention in bustling nineteenth-century Tokyo as a cheap fast food, and tells the story of the pioneers who brought it to America. He shows how this unlikely meal is now exploding into the American heartland just as the long-term future of sushi may be unraveling.

The Zen of Fish is a compelling tale of human determination as well as a delectable smorgasbord of surprising food science, intrepid reporting, and provocative cultural history.

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Editorial Reviews

Natural History Magazine
"One of the best things you can enjoy without melted butter."
Eric Ripert
“Trevor Corson’s reverence for all things from the sea is palpable. In his new book The Zen of Fish he takes you on a fascinating journey into the world of sushi. The story he relates is rich in detail, thoroughly engaging, simply a pleasure to get lost in.”
Michael Ruhlman
“The Zen of Fish is a pleasure to read, entertaining and informative, with compelling characters and fascinating history, all told in an easy and natural voice. Excellent food journalism.”
Los Angeles Times
“Lively. . . . vivid mixture of history, science, and personal anecdotes.”
New York Times Book Review
“Authoritative, often amusing, chapters on sushi history, marine biology and the physiognomy of taste. While the students hack away at mackerel, Corson serves up bite-size explanations. . . . His chapter on rice, a subject that Americans take for granted, is itself worth the price of the book.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A quirky, humanistic and mostly non-linear approach to the story of sushi. . . . poetic . . . beautiful.”
New York Times
“Rarely has a Westerner written so knowledgeably, or entertainingly, about the subject. . . . The reader emerges not only enlightened but a much better sushi eater.
Wall Street Journal
“Corson garnishes the tale with plenty of interesting tidbits. . . . Sushi fans may devour the information in The Zen of Fish.”
Solares Hill Key West
“Since sushi has become so popular in America, [Trevor Corson’s book] The Zen of Fish is now as relevant to the average American diner as other popular works of food-related journalism like Eric Schlosser’s ‘Fast Food Nation’ or Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma.’”
Penthouse
Corson leaves no detail unexplained, and true food nerds will appreciate his rigor....fascinating....you’ll still be lining up to order your favorite snack, but with renewed appreciation.
Entertainment Weekly
“Modest, unpretentious, and personal—it offers the familiar comfort of an omakase lunch…”
Boston Globe
“The Zen of Fish” tells us everything we could possibly want to know about every aspect of sushi.
Time Out New York
Illuminating new book...
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A meticulously reported account. . . . Corson proves a master at providing a non-stop banquet of tasty morsels sure to delight anyone who has taken a seat at a sushi bar.”
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“[The reporting] technique creates an immediate (and lasting) respect for the author’s narrative purity. . . . Corson also possesses a touch of the poetic.”
Boston Herald
“Corson serves up a savory blend of history and science along with a satisfying course of lobster and human behavior.”
USA Today on The Secret Life of Lobsters
“A fascinating story, blending science, politics and history . . . the writing is vivid.”
Natural History magazine
“One of the best things you can enjoy without melted butter.”
Boston Herald on The Secret Life of Lobsters
“Corson serves up a savory blend of history and science along with a satisfying course of lobster and human behavior.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060883508
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 410,990
  • Product dimensions: 9.06 (w) x 6.16 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson has studied philosophy in China, resided in Buddhist temples in Japan, and worked on commercial fishing boats off the Maine coast. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times and is the only "sushi concierge" in the United States. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Helpful knowledge for sushi lovers

    I thought this was a very educational book. The story line within was okay but not extraordinary. I thought it was enough though to keep my interest on continuing the book. I learned a lot and was very happy I read this one because of my love for sushi.

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  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    You can't say you know sushi till you read this book.

    I really enjoyed "The Secret Life of Lobsters" so I made sure to read the "The Zen of Fish." I would recomend this to people who have an interest in sushi or Japanese history or both. I hate sushi and I am not into asian history at all. However, this book was great. It is awsome how Trevor Corson shows the relationship of sushi and the Japanese culture through history and sushi's place in the world then and now. Unlike "The Secret Life of Lobsters," Trevor leaves out more of the marine research and puts more focus into the science of how sushi is prepared which makes for a fascinating read. The book is a little slower to get into and is less scientific then Trevor's last book. This is still a great book though and I recomend it to any one who may be interested.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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