**Shortlisted for the 2017 André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards**
**Shortlisted for the 2018 Fortnum & Mason Food Book Award**
'The next Bill Bryson.’ New York Times
Food and travel writer Michael Booth and his family embark on an epic journey the length of Japan to explore its dazzling food culture. They find a country much altered since their previous visit ten years earlier (which resulted in the award-winning international bestseller Sushi and Beyond).
Over the last decade the country’s restaurants have won a record number of Michelin stars and its cuisine was awarded United Nations heritage status. The world’s top chefs now flock to learn more about the extraordinary dedication of Japan’s food artisans, while the country’s fast foods – ramen, sushi and yakitori – have conquered the world. As well as the plaudits, Japan is also facing enormous challenges. Ironically, as Booth discovers, the future of Japan’s culinary heritage is under threat.
Often venturing far off the beaten track, the author and his family discover intriguing future food trends and meet a fascinating cast of food heroes, from a couple lavishing love on rotten fish, to a chef who literally sacrificed a limb in pursuit of the ultimate bowl of ramen, and a farmer who has dedicated his life to growing the finest rice in the world… in the shadow of Fukushima.
His writing has been compared to Bill Bryson's... and, like Bryson, he gives a light touch to weighty topics, but the comedy does not diminish the informative heft of this foodie odyssey... Readers will enjoy generous helpings of insights into some of the world's finest sustenance.
Booth is drawn to the offbeat, and The Meaning of Rice gives us a banquet of the unfamiliar... What Booth does best is a masterclass in Japanese cuisine from haute to caff counter... Beneath the light-hearted surface is a depth of research, respect and affection for Japanese culture and the quiet stoicism of its people.
The Meaning of Rice: And Other Tales from the Belly of Japan by Michael Booth is an energetic, witty travelogue that I enjoyed for its quirkiness and its lightly-worn learning. We live in an age of supermarket sushi, but this book is a million miles from that kind of mass-production. If you want to know more about the mysterious and increasingly ubiquitous yuzu, or about how soba noodles are made—answer: with quite astonishing precision—this is the book for you. For me, Booth is Bill Bryson wrapped in nori and, metaphorically at least, tottering around on a pair of wooden sandals.
The Meaning of Rice…will have you salivating for the Land of the Rising Sun.
It is not just a book of food though, it is a warm and funny tome which sees Michael and his family venture far off the beaten track to find a fascinating cast of food heroes, from a couple lavishing love on rotten fish to a chef who literally sacrificed a limb in pursuit of the ultimate bowl of ramen. It’s fun and full of food and Michael has been dubbed the new Bill Bryson – not bad then!