Food: Japanese cookbooks


Japanese Cookbook

A couple weeks ago I was in Japantown hanging with cousin Ly, catching the Cherry Blossom Festival parade, doing some window shopping and of course, snacking on some good eats. Being the book hounds that we both are we ended up in the Japanese bookstore for a bit of a browse. The large modern bookstore (think Barnes & Noble) was 99 percent Japanese books and periodicals, which read from back to front and have some pretty serious design going on. From a publisher’s perspective I was happy to just prowl around and absorb the design styles and publishing options.

Cousin Ly is fluent in Japanese, but I’m not even close. No matter though—some things are universal.


Fashion magazines. Piles and piles and piles of them. That’s cousin Ly on the right there. She loves fashion magazines. She’s twenty five.

At thirty six, I browsed through the fashion mags in five minutes (very cool if you get a chance to peruse, the Japanese have an amazing sense of style) before I was pulled by some IRRESISTIBLE supernatural magnetic force to …


… the cooking magazines. Ha!

And then to …


… the cookbooks. I was in heaven. I couldn’t read a word of it, but I was happy, happy, happy like a sand diggers clam. It was all so interesting—the photography, the beautiful design, the step-by-step photo instructions using ingredients that were at once familiar and foreign to me.

Ages later, cousin Ly found me again, “Oh, HERE you are! I should have known.” Yes, she should have.

Five minutes later we were both sucked into a terrific series of cookbooks by … I have no idea who. I cannot read Japanese.

Japanese Cookbook

The photos are such that I can still follow the recipe. With the ingredients I have to do a little guessing, but many of the recipes seem simple enough that I can certainly do some experimenting and substitution. Basically its a book filled with fun. And it’s quite beautiful to boot. The photography style is a bit dark and gritty and the uncoated natural paper stock adds an unconscious earthiness to the food. I love this series’ execution. Of course I had to get one. Duh!

Just outside the bookstore is a seating area packed with all kinds of people who are just hanging out. Many of them are waiting in line for Sophie’s Crepes, which is a Japantown must-go for their Asian/French-style crepes stuffed with fresh fruit and ice cream. Be prepared to wait though, I’ve never known the line to be less than twenty minutes, even during the week.




This little area outside the bookstore was the perfect place to sit down and people watch, flip through my new cookbook and nibble on one of Sophie’s Crepes.


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