Who expects to be entertained reading a cookbook? Hungry, perhaps and eager to try out recipes from it. But, in fact, some cookbooks do more than give you recipes and possibly some background story behind them, so they’re not only informative, they’re entertaining. One such book is Japanese Farm Food.
I know little about Japanese farms and indigenous Japanese culture except for what I’ve seen in movies. This book gives you an enlightening intimate look into one Japanese farm and how this particular family in it eats to live—keep this “particularity” in mind. Translating a food from one country to another, or executing someone’s recipe in your own kitchen never really produces the same result.
So many things can change a final dish. I ate things I was familiar with when I visited Japan, but I tasted soft tofu served at a mountain buddhist retreat that was like nothing I’ve had here. It was creamier, custardier.
The author knows very well what she’s talking about. She’s a professional teacher/chef married to a modern Japanese farmer. Nancy Singleton Hachisu, has the sensibility spawned by food guru Alice Waters, one much like the French concept of terroir―organic, as close to the source as you can get, simple preparations that make main ingredients shine. This sensibility is obvious in the recipes she includes in her book. This is Japanese food unlike what you ordinarily find in Japanese restaurants (except, maybe, some izakaya).
Her book is a delicious read and a feast for the eyes (lots of pictures). The recipes should also be easy to follow although you may find a few too exotic for your taste. To test your passion for this cuisine, hop over to this site for a few food pictures from the book. Here’s one: