cover image Japan


D. Ed. Wolf, Rizzoli, Angela Terzani. Rizzoli International Publications, $55 (8pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0867-0

This slipcased volume lays a feast of Japanese foods that are meticulous works of art as surely as they are sources of nourishment. The desire for freshness approaches the obsessive when the flesh of a plaice is removed from the bones while the fish is still alive, then cut into sashimi slices and replaced. As pictured here, the fish's internal organs remain intact and functioning. Fucha, a vegetarian cuisine of 17th century Buddhist origin, is still served at the monastery near Kyoto where it originated, while Japanese chefs have developed a California-style sushi with a topping of salmon roe and a perilla leaf. Fish-paste bars have replaced the more expensive raw fish at Japanese cocktail hours. Made from pureed and seasoned white fish, the bars are sold in a variety of shapes and colors and often resemble sweets; chocolate is molded in the form of sumo wrestlers. Wolf's (New York) painstakingly exquisite still lifes are, unfortunately, heavily bordered in black, a design that detracts from their appeal. Terzani is a Tokyo-based Italian journalist. (January 4)