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I recently dug this little gem out of a cupboard I shoved all my college stuff in (and promptly forgot about for 2 years), and must say it is packed full of wonderful information. I believe I purchased it off Amazon on one of my oriental inspired shops (happened a lot back then, obviously getting new books was more important that bills!). But I must say I'm glad I have re discovered this book!
The book is split up into six chapters:
1. My mother's Tokyo Kitchen. This includes charming antidotes about growing up in Japan and going back to visit and rediscovering her mother's cooking, also converting her now western husband in the process! Also detailing why the Japanese diet is healthier - its emphasis on fresh produce, and the fact that shoppers demand it! Rather than going on the day it was packaged but the hour!
2. In a Japanese Tangerine Forest. Here she reminisces about visiting her grandparents' farm as a child. Also how her grandmother would pick the produce for their meal right before preparing it and always had a supply of rice balls ready for visitors.
3. Seven Secrets from My Mother's Tokyo Kitchen. This section while peppered with fond memories of her childhood gives some useful information as to how and why Japanese people live healthier. Explaining how their diet is rich in fish, soya, rice, vegetables and fruit (don't let that put you off), and not only serving these super healthy foods but presenting them in such a way they look both delightful but also in small portions so you don't feel the need to gorge yourself.
4. How to start your Tokyo Kitchen. Recommends you get a rice cooker and a wok along with a small list of store cupboard essentials most of which not widely available (there are recommended sites to buy online however I know Google provides plenty). Also pointing out how converting to Japanese place settings would reduce the amount you eat as they are so tiny!
5. The seven pillars of Japanese cooking. Separated into sections this part has the main bulk of the recipes including the why at the beginning. Fish. Vegetables. Rice. Soya. Noodles. Tea. Fruit. I can honestly say its near impossible to get my partner and seven year old to try these (unless I tell him it's what Pucca and Naruto eats), but I shall persist!
6. The Samurai Diet. Opens with a historic tale about how a band of samurai lead by "the greatest female samurai in the history of Japan" triumphed and their success was accredited to eating brown rice instead of white 'polished' rice. And explains how throughout history samurai eventually turned into food lovers in times of peace.
One phrase that is repeated throughout is "Practise hara hachi bunme" - eat until you are 80 per cent full, which if you take nothing else from this book a valuable life lesson on its own. I used to follow this lifestyle quite religiously in my late teens but gradually let people change the way I ate as 'it's not normal' but I must say I was the healthiest and slimmest I've ever been then, in fact planning on gradually going back and trying to coax the two men in my life to at least partially join me!