Move over, Godzilla, Toyota Camry, and Sony PlayStation. The latest Japanese export to conquer the world is sushi. The rice and seafood delicacies seem to be everywhere lately, from high-end bistros to the corner store.
This summer, sushi is also on its way to becoming a media star. It's the subject of two new books that celebrate sushi not just as an international food craze, but also as the embodiment of globalization. The two books, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg and The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket by Trevor Corson, look at the business of sushi, focusing on the international network of fishermen, brokers, carriers, wholesalers, and others responsible for bringing it from fishing boat to dinner plate—what you might call the sushi supply chain. A highly entertaining article by Nick Tosches (with the tongue-in-cheek title "If you knew sushi…") also delves into the inner workings of the sushi empire in the June 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.
For the general public, these accounts offer a taste of what logistics and supply chain management are all about. For those of us in the field, though, there are passages in the books and article that will cause some to shake their heads. One example: Bluefin tuna that was caught in the North Atlantic, flown from Boston to Tokyo, auctioned off, cleaned and sliced into blocks, and then air-freighted to chefs who serve the still-fresh delicacy to diners in—you guessed it—Boston.