If I can’t travel, I cook. I’ve never been to Mexico, and used to think I hated the cheesy-beany glop that claims to be its cuisine, but that all changed when I found Rick Bayless’s first, Authentic Mexican. I’ve never been to Thailand, but back when I was so new to cooking that I’d never even baked bread or knew what to do with most of the vegetables in the produce section I scouted out lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and turmeric root (before it was trendy) to make everything I could from Vatcharin Bhumichitr’s Vatch’s Thai Cookbook. French, Italian, Chinese, you name it.
Unless you named Japanese. Then I was stumped. Raw-fish sushi was a nonstarter and back then the only ramen I knew about was the hangover-cure with a toxic flavor packet you got in college. Despite its name, Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art was encyclopedic and forbidding.
Then, one happy day, I came across a reference to Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, and in keeping with the frugal habits of grad school poverty I checked it out of the library…Read More