So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Cookbook of the day – The Joy of Japanese Cooking

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The Joy of Japanese cooking

by Kuwako Takahashi

  • Publisher:Shufu No Tomo-Sha (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4079751508
  • ISBN-13: 978-4079751506
  • This is one of those standard reference works that non-native Japanese cooks should own. For such a compact volume, there’s an amazing amount of information – from nice photos and line drawings of various ingredients to various cuts employed in Japanese cooking.

    The book  does have some flaws according to at least one person in Tokyo, a couple of which are a rather inaccurate English translation at times and the lack of  a Japanese name index. Also, they point out that there are sometimes inconsistencies in measurements. Both metric and non-metric measurements are given, but sometimes you only get one or the other. The last drawback that this reviewer points out is the use of the occasional “non-authentic” ingredients in certain dishes. I don’t find the measurement issue of much consequence. Most of the time, it’s something pretty trivial like using cups instead of ml for liquid measurements or teaspoons and tablespoons, but weights are usually given in both standards. Obviously, the authenticity and translation is something that I can’t judge. I realize that calling dishes “casseroles” might startle a Japanese speaker familiar with English (I have a hard time myself using the word casserole with any Japanese dish), but I suspect that it’s not that big of a deal in the long run. There are some Japanese dishes that would be hard to name in an English context. I think that you basically just to have some common sense about it. 

    Having noted these reservations, I still heartily recommend this book for anyone interested in exploring Japanese cuisine. The section on sushi is helpful and the last section is devoted to “menu planning” with some timetables for assembling a large meal.  I think the best part of this book is the detailed cutting techniques that the Japanese use to prepare their food. The line drawings and instructions are clear and concise. And the book is fairly compact and easy to use in the kitchen. Many books that try to cover a cuisine that has a lot of unusual ingredients and techniques ends up being the size of a refrigerator. Not this book. There’s a lot of value packed in a small space.

    This is the cover for the paperback:

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    If you can get the hardcover, I’d recommend it. It’s got a good feel to it. I think that both editions might be out-of-print, but Amazon has lots of NOS and used copies from their associated vendors.

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