The Folk Art of Japanese Country Cooking: A Traditional Diet for Today's World (Anglais) Broché – 14 janvier 1993
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The first half of the book deals with the history and ingreadiants of Japanese country cooking. The second half has all the recipes. For some of the ingreadiants you will probably have to try an Asian market, but over all most of the recipes are pretty simple, healthy, and taste great. A lot of these dishes are also not the type of food that you will find at the typical Japanese restrant, they are what you will probably encounter if you are lucky enough to be invited to someone's house for dinner in Japan.
Also nice is that many simple things such as how to cook rice in a pot or cut up a whole fish are covered for us less expert cooks out there.
So if you like more Asian food or just want to try something different I really recommend this book.
The heart of the book is not the recipes, though. It's the Japanese Cultural history. This is absolutely the best ethnography of rural Japan ever written, in my experience.
If you've ever wondered what life in rural Japan, or, for that matter, any rural subsistance society was like, this is where you'll find out. There is a lot of our own history in this book, if you care to look.
The cookbook is a beautiful introduction to a cuisine that is mysterious to many. More than many societies, the Japanese draw distinct divisions between food cooked and eaten at home and that eaten at restaurants. Mr. Homma does not address restaurant food; instead, he takes us into the homes of the common country people who eat seasonal foods that they prepare themselves. So, there are no recipes for fancy sushi or tempura. Instead, we find various ways to use up all parts of vegetables and to extend their shelf life by pickling or cooking in salty soy broths. Fish is extensively featured. Meats tend to show up as minor ingredients in stews or soups. Eggs are used in many dishes. Soy products and rice are stressed. Yes, we encounter things that can't be purchased at the local supermarket, but Mr. Homma is interested in presenting a way of life through a way of eating, and Japanese foods do contain ingredients not easily available in the US. Some recipes take a bit of imagination to follow, however, careful readers will discover that most recipes can be adapted to American ingredients, as long as the basic seasonings of soy sauce, dashi and mirin can be obtained.
Some will view this cookbook as a curiosity, and in some ways it is, because Mr. Homma has recorded a cooking style that is fading in Japan. However, I value the dedication to cultural history that Mr. Homma practices. If you visit Denver, eat a meal at Domo and allow yourself a glimpse of a fast-disappearing way of life.
The first half or third of the book is a long essay on the eating of traditional working people--farmers and fishermen--in Japan. By the time you finish it, the whole domestic economy, the nature of the simple Japanese home, and the origins of the cuisine will have become clear. There is no superficial gauziness here--we get facts, delightfully presented.
Next we get the recipes, arranged by meal. These recipes are mostly simple, and they use the same few ingredients again and again, so that once you buy the handful of staples called for you can try most of the things in the book. In fact, the recipes encourage thrifty recycling and practical use of left-overs--the dried shiitakes and kombu and fish from your dashi can themselves become side dishes for the next meal. There are a few strangely baroque recipes--one chicken dish calls for the same chicken to be successively simmered, then fried, then simmered again--but most of the recipes are such that a busy person can make most of them in a short time. This is also a cookbook for the amateur: there is none of the fussing with precise measurements, and cutting things into exactly the right shape, and simmering things for a precise amount of time, which many Japanese cookbooks involve. Remember, this is peasant cooking--the cooking of people who have a fire in the middle of their kitchen and eat sitting around that same fire. The amazing thing is that Homma makes that cooking accessible to us. And it tastes great!