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Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture

Finalist for the 2016 IACP Awards: Literary Food WritingNamed one of the Financial Times' "Best Books of 2016"An innovative new take on the travel guide, Rice, Noodle, Fish decodes Japan's extraordinary food culture through a mix of in-depth narrative and insider advice, along with 195 color photographs. In this 5000-mile journey through the noodle shops, tempura temples, and teahouses of Japan, Matt Goulding, co-creator of the enormously popular Eat This, Not That! book series, navigates the intersection between food, history, and culture, creating one of the most ambitious and complete books ever written about Japanese culinary culture from the Western perspective.Written in the same evocative voice that drives the award-winning magazine Roads & Kingdoms, Rice, Noodle, Fish explores Japan's most intriguing culinary disciplines in seven key regions, from the kaiseki tradition of Kyoto and the sushi masters of Tokyo to the street food of Osaka and the ramen culture of Fukuoka. You won't find hotel recommendations or bus schedules; you will find a brilliant narrative that interweaves immersive food journalism with intimate portraits of the cities and the people who shape Japan's food culture.This is not your typical guidebook. Rice, Noodle, Fish is a rare blend of inspiration and information, perfect for the intrepid and armchair traveler alike. Combining literary storytelling, indispensable insider information, and world-class design and photography, the end result is the first ever guidebook for the new age of culinary tourism.

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Harper Wave/Anthony Bourdain (October 27, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062394037

ISBN-13: 978-0062394033

Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)

Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Best Sellers Rank: #32,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #10 in Books > Travel > Food, Lodging & Transportation > Dining #12 in Books > Travel > Asia > Japan > General #15 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Asian Cooking > Japanese

I first fell in love with Roads and Kingdoms back in early 2012, after randomly stumbling on a tweet linking to co-founders Nathan Thornburgh and Matt Goulding’s rough and tumble, yet mesmerizingly written and incredibly well-informed adventures in Myanmar. Roads and Kingdoms then was a heady cocktail of cuisine, cultural commentary, history and geopolitical reflections all wrapped up in what seemed like an online journal of two experienced, savvy travelers who nevertheless have not lost their sense of infectious awe and insatiable curiosity at the world. Fast forward several years later, and they’ve released their first book in tandem with the sensei of all culinary wanderers, Anthony Bourdain – Rice, Noodle, Fish, a meticulously curated pilgrimage through Japanese cuisine (arguably the best in the world) as written by Matt and as edited by Nathan. It’s a book that crystallizes the best qualities of what makes Roads and Kingdoms peerless in the world of digital journalism.It is quite simply a marvel of a book, one that food enthusiasts will devour in one sitting. Thoughtfully conceptualized, each chapter focuses on a key Japanese city and paints detailed profiles of some of the culinary artisans (shokunins) which make that particular city’s food so indelibly great. Matt Goulding’s writing, as it is on Roads and Kingdoms, is impressively specific and evocative, a smart, inclusive voice that is as much experienced guide as warmly approachable barstool (or more appropriately teppan counter stool) companero.So who is Rice, Noodle, Fish for? I think it’s for us readers who are not just attracted by the sensory descriptions of cuisine, however passionately and vividly written, but more importantly are curious and concerned about the cultural context behind it.

“Japanese food is about subtraction,” says chef Toshiro Ogata in the section on Kyoto. In many ways the book Rice, Noodle, Fish is an embodiment of this sentiment, reducing and refining the subject to its essence. In this case, the subject is the energy and feeling that comes while eating your way through Japan. Like a great kaiseki meal that curates the essence of regional and seasonal flavors, the author Matt Goulding curates a series of his experiences in 7 of the best Japanese cities for eating, expanding your understanding of the essence of the gastronomic heaven that is Japan.Rice, Noodle, Fish is a fun and inspiring read. As much as I have planned and schemed my next trip to Japan, this book fortified my determination to get there, and get there quick. While not a guidebook in the traditional sense, Rice, Noodle Fish is more of a spiritual guide disguised as a beautifully designed travelogue, that gets you into the right frame of mind so you can make the most of your trip. And like any good spiritual guide it gives you the tools and the courage to leap into the abyss and expand your reality (Cod sperm anyone?).With this in mind, if you are looking for a compendium on Japanese food or more traditional guidebook fare like hotel options this book is not the right fit. However, once you need that level of detail, there are certainly other sources including a Roads & Kingdoms free online guide that should fill most of that void. It’s got food, drink and hotel recommendations for each place covered in the book. Looks like you can even download it and take it on the go.This book is for anyone remotely curious about Japan, Japanese food or traveling in Japan. Read it in advance so you can set the tone for your planning.

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