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Books: Oishinbo

Susan Jung

 

Oishinbo
Words by Tetsu Kariya; art by Akira Hanasaki

 

It would be easy enough to dismiss manga as "just" comics, but that seems ignorant when a good percentage is targeted at adults.

Oishinbo ("the gourmet") is a long-running manga series set in the world of Japanese cuisine. The main protagonists are a reporter who although lazy has a very refined palate; his estranged father, a famous artist with an even more refined palate; and the journo's life/work partner.

The English translations have been compiled into categories (such as Fish, Sushi & Sashimi; The Joy of Rice; and Ramen & Gyoza). This can make it difficult to follow the story line, as the main love interests might be just friends in one chapter and married in the next. But it doesn't stop the series from being entertaining and educational, as the reader learns about shinko (baby gizzard shad); why nihonshu (what most people refer to as sake ) varies so wildly in quality and price; the differences between left-eyed flounder and right-eyed flounder; and why onigiri (rice balls) are far superior when made by a housewife rather than a chef.

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