Untangling My Chopsticks

by Victoria Abbott Riccardi (Broadway Books, $23.95)

Her grandmother's tales of Kyoto, Japan, fueled Victoria Abbott Riccardi's desire to go Far East. Eventually she did, leaving her boyfriend, job, and apartment in New York and traveling to Kyoto to study the art of tea kaiseki, the preparation and presentation of food during formal tea ceremonies. Riccardi immersed herself in all things culinary in Kyoto and shares what she learned, along with 25 recipes: for tea ceremonies (duck wanmori), holidays (ku-ris-ma-su ke-ki, or Christmas cake), and typical Japanese meals (beef and potato supper pot at home; okonomiyaki, aka Japanese pizza, for eating out). This is a culinary sojourn, and so food dominates the bookand descriptions of shopping, chopping, slicing, braising, mixing, grilling, and presenting, along with cleaning up and its attendant fatigue, eventually grow tiresome. There are a few misstepscomment on Japanese men's sexual proclivities, being an eyeglasses model for a daythat are intrusive. But Riccardi adds lovely touches by engaging with the history, culture, and ritual of Japan, and delivers an intriguing look at a tiny slice of Japanand how she cooked for it. info@seattleweekly.com

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