World's Most Elegant Doggie Bag
As much as I admire sushi, the ultimate Japanese dining experience is probably kaiseki. A kind of small-dish tasting menu, kaiseki combines the elegance of Japan’s ancient courtly cuisine with the simplicity of Buddhist temple fare (and often includes both small sashimi and sushi courses). The goal of kaiseki is to highlight the natural taste of ingredients at the peak of freshness and...
The Global Catch
It’s hard to believe there was a time when most Americans would rather eat a tuna sandwich than sushi. Or watch Ultraman instead of Iron Man. As a kid in the seventies I probably started watching Ultraman around the same time I started eating canned fish between slices of bread. Both were a low-budget half-mechanized sort of sustenance. Japanese sci-fi; the triumph of technology over...
Cool: the other day Anthony Bourdain retweeted some of my sushi etiquette tips. Inevitable: amidst many positive responses, I got some others suggesting that perhaps such attention to detail was a tad elitist. Irony: I totally sympathize. Food snobbery is exactly what I was hoping to avoid when I decided to focus The Story of Sushi on a motley crew of American sushi apprentices in L.A., rather...
Japan Is So Quirky
Can you believe the Japanese still use fax machines—lots of them? How come they haven’t switched to email like the rest of the modernized world? It’s mainly because their language and culture are so unique, according to an amused headline this week in the Washington Post. Those Japanese are so quirky. We love “Japan is so quirky” stories. This latest, in which the...
Turns Out that Lobsters Talk to Fish
One of the scenes from The Secret Life of Lobsters that people remark about most is the description of the “LTV”—”lobster trap video”—which exposed the behavior of lobsters in a trap as rather like a mob of escaped convicts in a barroom brawl. Escaped convicts because, after their slugfest, most of the lobsters caught on the LTV security cameras didn’t stay imprisoned...
Too Much of a Good Thing?
This is a pile of lobsters photographed on the coast of Maine around 1870. Lately the piles of lobsters being hauled in by Maine lobstermen are even bigger. That’s partly because lobsters are all that’s left in the Gulf of Maine for fishermen to catch—most of the cod, haddock, hake, and other fish have long since been wiped out from overfishing. This means that baby lobsters have few...
I’m not normally much into fashion, but Alexander McQueen captured my heart with what the New York Times called the “lobster claw stiletto bootie,” perhaps the most aquatically sensual shoe ever created. The Times wrote: The boot transformed the models’ feet into … the claws of some futuristic crustacean. … McQueen, influenced by On the Origin of Species, presented a kind of...
In Lieu of Being a Rock Star
Having played in a rock band in high school, the dream, of course, was always to “play an arena.” I’d assumed that dream had died a brutal and summary death once I’d headed down the path of becoming a writer—not to mention a writer who has spent a good chunk of his time writing about things like spatial and temporal patterns of benthic habit usage by invertebrates. So it...
Would You Eat a Taco Off a Conveyor Belt? Why...
It’s official, I spotted the future digs of New York City’s fast-approaching kaiten sushi joint in SoHo, on the corner of Grand & West Broadway, which according to a sign on the window of interrogation-room glass will be opening in February. As you probably know, kaiten sushi is the Japanese term for “conveyor-belt” sushi, and apparently sushi lovers in NYC are meant...
If You Happen to Have Named Your Dog "Sushi"
Then I dare say here is the perfect doggie sweater.
The Lobster-Killing Conversation Continues
The timeless topic of how best to dispatch a lobster is revived again this weekend in a New York Times review of two new books that flesh out the lobster literature alongside my book, The Secret Life of Lobsters. The review ponders the best way to kill a lobster for cooking, and cites “an illustrated blog post” I wrote detailing a quick and humane way to end a lobster’s life...
In Tokyo, the New Normal
In an email from a Japanese friend in Tokyo: People in Tokyo tend to have spring allergies, so in the old days at this time of year, we’d greet each other with the words, “The pollen count is low, it’s a nice day, isn’t it?” Lately, we’re greeting each other with the words, “The radiation level is 0.09 millisieverts, a little higher than normal,...
No Wonder Japan Has Earthquakes
Having experienced the earthquake in Kobe, Japan in 1995—during which I was utterly convinced my life was about to end—and now seeing even worse devastation in Japan again, with the tsunami, I’m struck by this graphic from the GeoResources website illustrating the confluence of tectonic plates that causes these devastating tremors. Japan could not be more terribly situated for seismic...
The Future of Japanese Seafood
People have been asking me whether I think sushi is going to be safe to eat, with the threat of radiation from the stricken nuclear plant possibly affecting Japan’s food supply. While this might seem almost irrelevant considering the potential direct threat to the people of Japan at the moment, it’s a fair question. For starters, here are few thoughts I offered the New York Times in...
The Knowns and Unknowns of Lobster Love
I must compliment the Lotos Club for considering the wide range of potential interests among its members and last night providing, in addition to Don Rumsfeld’s book signing upstairs, at the same time a talk on the lovemaking techniques of lobsters by Trevor Corson in the library—preparations pictured above. While Henry Kissinger chose not to attend my lecture, I’m pleased to report...
If you have never seen a gathering of Beltway insiders metamorphose into a room full of sushi chefs, it puts to shame the miraculous transformation of caterpillar to butterfly. At this shindig I taught at CulinAerie in Washington D.C. for the alumni association of the Potomac School, I provided the merest of instruction and the team was knocking out restaurant-quality old-school maki in...
Pants Not Included
I’m very tempted to buy this. Only thing that gives me pause is “Pants not included.” Wondering if that’s what makes it “Adult.”
Long Live the Lobster Bandidos
Members of the foodiesphere are calling for a guest judge appearance on Top Chef for the Swedish chef from the Muppets. I am 100% on board with this, and would in addition like to see a return of the Lobster Bandidos.
Finding Our Way
When I was a lobsterman in Maine I prided myself on my ability to navigate across the sea through the dense fog using a compass and my wristwatch. Just now I used my iPhone to search for a store in Manhattan that I didn’t realize I was already standing in front of. Here’s a picture I snapped of the late Warren Fernald in his boat Mother Ann—if you’ve read The Secret Life of...
$400,000 for a Fish?
What’s with the $400,000 bluefin tuna that just sold at a new year’s auction in Tokyo? Nothing. This recurring headline of extravagantly priced tuna is one of those news items that leaves you with less knowledge than you had before you heard about it. That’s because the only reason any bidder at the Tokyo auction ever pays that much for a fish is to deliberately spend way more than...
Maine in Winter
I’m speechless. photo: Sarah Corson
In case you sushi lovers haven’t had enough of my posts on nigiri topped with flounder testicle, here’s the latest high-end food fad in that category: sipping cod semen. Apparently no one has told these people that we’re trying to bring back the cod population. I don’t think slurping down all the spermatozoa is going to help. Where is our faith in the future of the...
How Much Should Sushi Cost?
Most of us are probably overpaying for good sushi. Last night at my Sushi Concierge dinner lecture in New York, one guest declared our simple but elegant menu of traditional sushi better than meals he’d eaten at the much pricier sushi bars Masa and Yasuda. It’s all about knowledge. I’ll be sharing more insider tips at my next dinner lecture in New York on Tuesday, December 7....
A Sense of Time
It’s the 180th anniversary of the founding of the tiny fishing community on the Cranberry Isles in Maine, where the 5th-generation lobstermen depicted in The Secret Life of Lobsters live and work. Here’s the commemorative postmark, showing the small boat that still ferries passengers and brings the islanders their daily mail. Hard to believe I have been riding that same boat since I...
Food for Thought
If there’s one thing I learned while researching and writing The Story of Sushi, it’s that the history of sushi has been one of surprisingly constant change and evolution, both in Japan and internationally. The book’s subtitle isn’t “An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice” for nothing. The other day I had the honor of hosting a sold-out panel discussion at the...
In a Surprise Move, Apple Computer Enters the...
In case you missed the Japanese gadget geek who decided his new iPad could serve as the perfect interchangeable serving platter for sushi and sashimi, here you go. His iPhone makes a delightful appearance as well. (This has been featured on a number of blogs already, but few of them highlighted the English translation provided on the original Japanese page I’ve linked to, which adds its...
How to Talk about Bestiality on NPR
My exceptionally embarrassing interview with WNYC’s RadioLab has just been beamed around the world. The topic? The mysterious phenomenon of large lobster rescues. Here’s a sample from the conversation: Robert Krulwich: “Was it its beauty?” Trevor Corson: “I actually think that lobsters are very attractive.” Robert Krulwich: “Do you always think...
I am searching for the words that could describe this dog’s expression. Something that combines reproach with bewilderment at the human sense of humor. Source: Buzzfeed.
Now here is a cure for the minivan blues—the “Crushstation,” a lobster-themed monster truck. Hell yeah. Check out the video.
Behind the Scenes
I recently spent a few hours behind the scenes with the sushi chefs at the Michelin-starred Jewel Bako restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, where I host my Sushi Concierge dinner lectures, watching them prepare during a busy morning and afternoon. Here, Chef Yuzo trims fillets of a variety of small, traditional sushi fish. If you’re curious what else goes on behind the scenes in a sushi...
Have you ever struggled with something you’re not good at? Have you ever wrestled with a sense of inadequacy in the face of daunting challenges that seem easily mastered by others? Have you ever persevered only to encounter widespread prejudice against you? Kate Murray, pictured above, had never cooked much more than scrambled eggs and had no background in Japanese culture—her...
If You're Looking for Crustacean Porn
Then look no further than the new “Summer Issue” of New York magazine, which describes a lobster-sex-tape viewing session with yours truly. If you find that the least bit interesting, you’re probably a prime candidate for putting The Secret Life of Lobsters on your summer reading list. Here’s what the Associated Press had to say: In passages befitting a beach scene in a...
In honor of “National Lobster Day,” here’s some lobster trivia from The Secret Life of Lobsters, as printed in a publication called “Out & About in Downeast Maine”: • Maine fishermen catch and sell between 55 million and 60 million pounds of lobster a year. • It takes the average lobster from five to seven years to reach legal size. In that time it will shed...
A Civilized Crustacean
I snapped this photo over the weekend. I was visiting my friends at the Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn to be interviewed for a radio documentary about The Secret Life of Lobsters. I thought I’d show the reporter the power of the lobster’s crusher claw, so I encouraged this lobster to squeeze a plastic fork and break it to pieces. Instead, the lobster grabbed the fork and held it...
The International Seafood Show is surreal. A bizarro combo of sea critters and commerce, it takes place at the cavernous Boston Convention Center, which I visited last week while in town to be interviewed for a documentary film at the nearby New England Aquarium. On display was this machine called the “Shrimpster.” I’m having a hard time believing that a member of Hell’s...
The Rites of Spring
I know spring is here when my former boss, lobsterman Bruce Fernald of Little Cranberry Island, Maine, loads his pickup truck with this many traps. His wife Barb snapped this photo the other day, just as Bruce was heading for the harbor to begin the year’s fishing. Bruce and Barb are both real-life characters depicted in The Secret Life of Lobsters. P.S. While Bruce is setting lobster...
Whale: To Eat or Not to Eat?
On Sunday, the documentary film The Cove, which exposes dolphin hunting in Japan, won an Oscar. On Tuesday, the film’s production team attracted front-page coverage in the New York Times with a cleverly timed sting that exposed whale sushi being served not in Japan, as you might expect, but in Santa Monica. Almost two decades ago in Japan, I was once taken to dinner at a restaurant that...
Ruining Regular Sushi, One Meal at a Time
Last night I hosted a private dinner at Jewel Bako in New York for a gentleman named Eric and his wife Michelle, to celebrate her birthday. They were both fairly experienced sushi eaters, but Michelle in particular had been playing it safe over the years. With my guidance Michelle ended up trying things Eric had been encouraging her to try for a long time: her first raw shrimp, her first raw...
Fashion Trend Update
The paparazzi have spotted a new fashion trend this week when recording artist Lady Gaga and author Trevor Corson were both photographed wearing lobsters on their heads. Gaga sported hers as she emerged from her limousine to attend her after-show party in London, and Corson was apparently wearing his when he emerged from his Brooklyn apartment to pick up the morning paper after a long night of...
In Vegas, Anything Goes, Except ...
This sign was brought to my attention by the ever-vigilant experts at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, after they spotted it on the blog Oddly Specific. The blogger comments: “Something has to be illegal in Nevada.” The post reads: This is one of those things I had to look up, just to make sure it was legit. Turns out, it totally is. It’s crayfish, not lobsters, but...
Kinky Sea Slug
A “nudibranch” is not, it turns out, a local public library where patrons walk around without any clothes, as I’d always believed. “Nudibranch” actually refers to a “taxonomic clade of soft-bodied, shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms,” according to Wikipedia — a description...
Inventor of the Lobster Claw Bootie, R.I.P.
Sadly, we must mourn the sudden passing of fashion designer Alexander McQueen at the unsettling age of only 40—McQueen, who so recently captured my heart as the inventor of what the New York Times called the “lobster claw stiletto bootie,” pictured here, perhaps the most aquatically sensual shoe ever created. The Times wrote: The boot transformed the models’ feet into … the claws of...
One of the Small Perks of Being a Sushi Concierge
Being a Sushi Concierge is hard work—last night I hosted a nearly 3-hour dinner for ten guests at my Monday-night dinner class series at Jewel Bako restaurant. But there are some perks. I don’t get to eat during the meal, but the maître d’ wouldn’t let me leave without taking a box of sushi home myself. Score. The sushi in the picture—what the maître d’ insisted on...
Sustainable Sushi Strains Couples in Therapy
In case you missed this from an article in the New York Times the other day titled “Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes”: Mr. Fleming, who says he became committed to Ms. Cobb “before her high-priestess phase,” describes their conflicts as good-natured — mostly. But he refuses to go out to eat sushi with her anymore, he said, because he cannot stand to hear her quiz the...
If Atlantic bluefin tuna becomes an endangered species, that’s big news. That...– Trevor Corson There I go, quoting myself again, this time from an AP article that’s been running on ABC News and numerous other outlets: “Sushi-Loving Japan Fears Push for Tuna Export Ban.” This is a difficult issue, because popular opinion in Japan seems to interpret efforts to...
Need a moment of Zen? Watch this video in which nothing happens. I’ve been in Delray Beach, Florida, this week, as a visiting speaker at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Situated around a large lake, the Morikami boasts extensive traditional Japanese gardens designed by landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, whose work emphasizes the therapeutic healing effects of nature. My schedule...
Lobster Side Dish: Bricks, or Oysters?
Bricks are not delicious. Oysters are delicious. Both are heavy. Heaviness is what you need for a lobster trap to sink to the bottom of the sea and stay there. When I worked as a lobsterboat crewman in Maine, numerous winter days were spent outfitting new traps with heavy bricks. But the lobstermen pictured above, who are part of a pilot study in Massachusetts, are trying something different....
Merry Christmas, from Karen and Daisy
Karen: So what’s this big news, then? Daisy: We’ve been given our parts in the nativity play. And I’m the lobster. Karen: The lobster? Daisy: Yeah! Karen: In the nativity play? Daisy: Yeah, first lobster. Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus? Daisy: Duh. —Love Actually
Lobster in Blue
This was the lonely last soul in the tank at a seafood restaurant at the South Street Seaport in New York City on Sunday. I’m all for eating lobster, but this fellow (or lady) pulls even my heart strings.
Wild Vermont Lobster
Ran across Les Hook and Nova Kim from the “northeast Kingdom of Vermont” at the New Amsterdam Market in New York yesterday. I did a double-take when I saw the packages marked “Wild Vermont Lobster.” Ain’t no ocean there, folks. Of course, what they were selling was “lobster” mushrooms, harvested by hand and dried. Does anyone know if these things...