Monday, March 17, 2008

have your sushi and save it too

Those (six) of you who keep up with my fiction know one of my first (only) short stories involves a bumbling girl who, among her many gaffes, mocks a friend when he pulls out a list to determine what fish is safe—meaning sustainable—to eat at dinner. Such a list exists. Dunno if you knew that.

Well as fate would have it, it ends up I'm the very lucky editor of the one, the only definitive sushi guidebook to be published by—yes, it's true—the creator of said list. I didn't know him when I wrote the story. And you're right, he's not the only one that put the list together. As always with such efforts, it was the result of a whole motley crew of all-good, freebooting, seafaring, entirely overeducated, pointyheaded researchers. But of them all, Casson Trenor's the one who has made me an official acolyte and that's why I petitioned so hard to get his book on our list at North Atlantic.

Casson is like a handsome Paul Watson, or maybe a radical Bill McKibben. He's the all-around cool guy in the North Face jacket who talks like an encyclopedia and makes it all feel doable, whatever it all may be. You'd probably find yourself wishing you could keep him in your pocket anytime you needed to make an informed decision in a world at its environmental ends. He stops to talk with each of the youngsters waving clipboards and standing out on the streetcorners, demands they back up their arguments, laments when they fail. Because lives matter to him he puts in the effort to understand the complexity of a crisis. So step right up, first contestant. Today is your lucky day! Because believe it or not, now you actually can put Casson in your pocket...or at least a Zagat-sized guide he wrote anyway.

But you'd rather eat sashimi than save the planet, you say? That's the point. Casson's book (tucked neatly in your cargo-pants pocket) makes for a world in which you can gleefully indulge your selfish hedonist's impulses without scarfing up the last of our world's rare, wild creatures that really have no place being options at the sushi bar in the first place.

Even my fictional cynic has to admit it is a fun read, teaching you how to talk up your sushi chef (it's an art, in fact), what you can eat into eternity, how to tell fresh food, where it all comes from, and the questions you have a right—an obligation—to be asking.

And did I mention color photos of every fish (both the fish and the sushi, actually), along with killer illustrations? Say hello, for example, to my friend the monkfish.

Now that's an animal. I'm telling you. Coming to an aquarium, bookstore, and near you January 2009. Don't wait! Order today, wasabi tomorrow. Sustainable Sushi: A Guide for a Changing Planet. Make a note of it.