PW interviewed Harumi Kurihara, author of Harumi's Japanese Cooking (Reviews, Jan. 16), via a translator.
You have written 40 cookbooks, you publish a lifestyle magazine and sell your own line of dishes in Japan. What's it like to finally come to the U.S.?
In the past, Japanese women had a strong sense of yearning and respect for American women and their family lives. Nowadays, this feeling of yearning is less; however, the feeling of respect has not been lost at all. It's my honor to offer recipes to American women.
Your book opens with the quote "Take up the challenge and enjoy a meal with all your senses." How does the book challenge readers?
The daily life of a housewife is very ordinary, isn't it? It's a repetition of the same thing, but even in that sort of life, if you try something new, even a little bit, you may be able to surprise your husband and children. If your child says, "Mom, this tastes good!" it's a badge of honor for a housewife. If you can make a delicious meal using some leftover vegetables and meat, that helps the household budget and that's also the joy of cooking.
How do you think Americans will respond to your cooking?
Japanese people nowadays know a variety of international food. Not only Western dishes but dishes from China, Thailand and Vietnam are being cooked more frequently in daily life. I base my recipes on modern, home-style Japanese cooking that is influenced by Western cooking; therefore, I don't think that Americans will find it so foreign. America has a history that gained respect from the world by accepting foreign cultures with tolerance, so I believe my recipes will be warmly embraced.
Are there any dishes you wanted to include in the book, but thought would be too intimidating for American cooks?
My cooking is not that of a posh restaurant. It is contemporary home-style Japanese cooking. Traditional Japanese cooking, which looks beautiful, is sensitive, based on tradition and takes years of training. However, ordinary Japanese people do not eat that kind of food every day. Anyone who can cook using recipes like Martha Stewart's can also use mine.
What is the biggest misconception Americans have when it comes to Japanese cuisine?
Fifty years or so ago, people might have thought it was barbaric to eat raw fish, but nowadays, sushi bars are so popular. I believe tasty food will cross borders without the need for passports.