SOCIAL SCIENCES

Super Sushi Ramen Express: One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan

Picador. Sept. 2016. 336p. index. ISBN 9781250099808. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250099792. TRAV
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Globe-trotting Brit Booth (Eating Dangerously) hits the road for Japan, planning to learn the secrets of one of the world's most highly regarded food meccas. To add to the fun, the author's patient wife, Lissen, and two young sons—who predictably most enjoyed the sumo wrestlers but less of the cuisine—joined him. With such compelling chapter titles such as "The Sake Crisis" and "Sumo-Size Me," the text is a treat for readers even if they never taste a single morsel. The author begins by having lunch in a dohyo, where sumo wrestlers eat. Much to everyone's "disappointment," these huge athletes don't bulk up on chocolate but on sweet corn and tofu. Booth's wit is apparent as he learns about tempura from a chef who assures him that "lumps are good." An interesting side note is that contemporary Japanese now prefer beer to sake. Production of sake has dropped from 449 million gallons in 1975 to 185 million gallons today. Despite Booth's quest to learn about Japan's finest foods, he reveals that the now deceased Momofuku Ando, who invented ramen noodles, was a hero and multibillionaire with over 85 billion servings of ramen consumed in the world annually.
VERDICT Mainly for foodies interested in Japanese cuisine.

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