For the past five years, food writer and former “Iron Chef America” judge Akiko Katayama has been updating a global audience about Japanese cuisine through a series of weekly conversations she has with chefs, sake brewers, rice farmers, home cooks, potters and many, many others on her podcast, “Japan Eats!,” presented from New York.
Katayama’s new book, “A Complete Guide to Japanese Cuisine,” is a logical extension to the show. It manages to be comprehensive in the ground it covers, taking in everything from Japan’s regional cuisines to kissaten (old-school coffee houses) and bento (boxed lunches), and even why you should slurp your noodles while devouring them. It’s also a concise book, helpfully illustrated both with photos and diagrams, as well as interesting facts and statistics — if you were wondering, curry bread was first introduced to Japan in 1927!
With this, her first book, Katayama wanted to help bridge the gap for a Japanese audience eager to explain the essentials of Japanese food, hence she’s written it in Japanese and English. As Japan’s tourism boom continues, and the appetite for washoku increases around the globe, voices like Katayama’s can help distill the basics of what is, after all, a cuisine based on simplicity.
If you’re looking for a grounding in Japanese cuisine, or planning a trip in Japan, Katayama’s 101 guide to Japanese food is a worthy primer.