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While some readers may wish for deeper explorations of some of Booth’s subjects, he covers the current state of Japanese...

A British food and travel writer takes his wife, two young sons, and a bubbly brand of humor to Japan in hopes of examining the food culture and losing a few of the pounds he has picked up living and cooking in Paris.

In short, punchy chapters, Booth (The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, 2015, etc.) recounts his adventures on “a foodie family road trip lasting just under three months,” sticking to the subjects at hand. He may not reach any novel conclusions about Japanese cuisine, but he vividly sums up the sensory experience of bonito flakes, with their “addictive smoky-citric flavor,” or dashi, “sweet as spring peas ripe from the pod, yet complex with the tang of ocean.” Many of the author’s most delightful experiences involved his family. He took them along to a sumo “stable” to see how the wrestlers achieve their vast girth, and one of the “colossal walrus people” allowed Booth’s 6-year-old son to pin him. The author also hiked with his family up “a forest road strewn with the corpses of poisonous snakes” to experience nagashi-somen, noodles launched down a mountain river for diners to catch on the fly. More often, Booth toured production facilities on his own, seeking out real wasabi—remarkably hard to find even in Japan—and Kobe beef. He also attempted, with partial success, to make sense of “the two rival culinary camps that divide Japan,” one centered in Tokyo and the other in Kyoto and Osaka. Though Booth trained as a chef in Paris, his tastes are delightfully eclectic: he is as apt to indulge in a 10-hour “food crawl” of Osakan fast-food noodle joints as he is to savor the most delicate sushi, and he evokes both experiences with gusto.

While some readers may wish for deeper explorations of some of Booth’s subjects, he covers the current state of Japanese cuisine with humor and intelligence.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-09980-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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