Thumbs up for Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton. Travel/food.
Since I cannot go to Tokyo right now, and furthermore can’t eat most of the food even if I were in Tokyo, this book was a deliciously comforting substitute. The author says flat-out in the introduction that he’s never had a complicated inner life, and I really appreciate that: you know what you’re getting. He is a humble and slightly silly enthusiast – exactly the kind of guide I want to show me around the Tokyo food scene. Since we live less than fifteen miles apart, I suppose it’s possible that I will meet him someday (Seattle is a very small city) and I will ask for travel advice. Until then, this book made me happy. And hungry.
Charcoal-grilled negi becomes amazingly tender, and the layers slide apart with the nudge of a tooth. Negima is sometimes made in the U.S. with scallions in place of negi, and it’s not the same. In general, as much as I like scallions, they make a poor substitute for negi; they’re smaller and the flavor is more oniony. American leeks are too tough. I guess the only substitute for negi is dreaming about negi like a nostalgic doofus.
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