Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!: A Tasty History of JapaneseFood in America
By: Gil Asakawa
Publish Date: August 30, 2022
Stone Bridge Press | 216 Pages | $18.95
Your favorite Japanese foods, home-cooked, packaged, or served in restaurants, and how they came to delight the American palate.
Tabemasho! Let’s Eat! is a tasty look at how Japanese food has evolved in America from an exotic and mysterious—even “gross”—cuisine to the peak of culinary popularity, with sushi sold in supermarkets across the country and ramen available in hipster restaurants everywhere. Born in Japan and raised in the U.S., Asakawa has eaten his way through this amazing food revolution.
Q&A with Author Gil Asakawa
Gil Asakawa is the author of Being Japanese American (Stone Bridge Press). He is a nationally known journalist, blogger, and speaker about Japanese and Japanese American culture and history. He is a Colorado-based foodie and an amateur chef who writes about food and posts photos of food on social media and on his blog, NikkeiView.com.
What was the inspiration behind writing “Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!”?
As a foodie, I love food in general and my favorite is Japanese food for obvious reasons (Japanese American, born in Japan). And I found it fascinating that the food I used to get teased for in 3rd grade when my family moved to the U.S., sushi, is now available at King Soopers and I bet the grandkids of those bullies from 3rd grade now eat sushi a couple times a week. And it’s not necessarily great sushi!
What aspect of Japanese American cuisine and its history was most fascinating to you?
I focused mainly on how America embraced sushi and ramen and covered the history of those popular foods both in Japan and how they got here, but I also learned a lot in my research. For instance, we think of tuna and salmon as must-have fish for sashimi and sushi, but tuna was considered junk fish only good for canned tuna and pet food until about 60 years ago, and salmon wasn’t eaten raw in Japan until the 1990s because of parasites in raw salmon (Japanese always cooked salmon until then), when the government of Norway sent a man to pitch Japanese on Norway’s surplus farm-raised, parasite-free salmon. It took a few years but the Norwegian representative did convince one store to buy raw salmon at a steep discount and agree to sell it raw.
A famous sushi chef tried it and gave it the thumbs up, and now it’s one of the most popular. (Because of freezing technology, the fresh-caught salmon from the Pacific is also safe to eat raw.)
What do you hope readers get out of the book?
A wider appreciation of Japanese food and an interest in trying new dishes that they might not know about. Yet.
Connect with Gil Asakawa on social media at @gilasakawa.