Every year we attempt to put more book reviews on the website. At one point I even had grand delusions of posting one a week because we have an enormous library, we write books, and we LOVE books. Then life got in the way and we ended up doing a few short book reviews here and there when we are truly inspired by something. Because let's face it, books are expensive and it takes time to read them from cover to cover. They are an investment in our own knowledge and pleasure. So many times I put off writing about a book because I want to read every single page and then comprehensively express how much I enjoyed it. With my schedule this proves to be almost impossible to achieve. My goal this year is more little book reviews. Short and sweet synopses of why a book is worth reading. That we can share more about our library and, hopefully, you can find some interesting books to read that you might not have picked up on your own.
For example, I briefly mentioned that I have been reading Preserving the Japanese Way, Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling For the Modern Kitchen by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. She happens to be a writer who could make any topic sound wonderful and welcoming. Her books are an auto-buy for me, although it may take me a little time before I get them on my shelf. I find that as life picks up speed, I often don't find about books until they've been out for a while. But that's okay because I'm a big believer that things cross our path when they are meant to. Books about traditional Japanese techniques are available in larger quantities than they used to be, but the quality is up and down. As I mentioned, Nancy's books are very readable, which means we get the benefit of her knowledge and experience in a way that simply winds itself into our hearts. I love the stories about her farm, her family and friends, and the small producers, both near and far, that feature in her essays. There's a lot of information and philosophy in these pages. As we move into CSA season there are lots of ideas for using up all those vegetables that don't fit on the dinner table. You'll learn how to make your own miso and sake, shio koji and tofu, salted vegetables (and fish) and fermented pickles. It's a treasure trove of flavors that are easily translated into American ingredients and cuisine. The photography is evocative and takes you to another place and time. The recipes are well written and solid. It's a special book. Although I haven't quite finished it yet, I'm in no hurry, because reading this one is a pleasure and I'll be sorry when I'm done.