Somewhere midway through 2014 I made a list. At the top I wrote the Art of Eating and below it other publications I hoped to someday write for. The Art of Eating was at the top for a reason. It’s one of the few food related magazines, media of any kind really, that presents exactly the kind of stories I love to write – in depth explorations of taste and its relationship to terroir, with emphasis on the importance of tradition, innovation, and experience in the pursuit of quality.
In December of that year my mother and her partner Jane came to visit. One morning Jane began reading a recent Art of Eating magazine she found on the dining table. Being from Vermont herself, I thought she’d enjoy the fact that the editor, Edward Behr lives there too. Ed Behr, she mused. I think I used to sell him lumber. For years Jane ran her own sawmill in Northern Vermont. For years Edward Behr built houses.
Later that week we drove along the shore of the Ariake Sea where the best nori in Japan grows. We stopped in at Sanpuku Nori, a shop in Saga City that distributes nori to some of the best restaurants in Japan. As luck would have it, the owner, Tsunehiro Kawahara was in the store that day and we talked about nori for a long time.
Can you see where this story is going? Suffice it to say, the stars aligned that December. An email about our small-world connection, my recent travels and a pitch to write about nori from the Ariake Sea turned into my first assignment for the publication at the top of my list.
I embarked on six months of research followed by months of drafting and editing. This week I can finally announce that the article is in print! Well sort of… the Art of Eating recently went digital, but my article on where and how Japan’s finest nori is produced is in the latest issue and you can find it here.
Throughout those months of researching, Kawahara became my guide to the world of premium nori, teaching me how to discern its taste, texture, color, and fragrance. He is a kind and gentle man who believes completely in his product. He wants to introduce the true taste of nori to connoisseurs beyond Japan’s borders, because the truth is, if you haven’t eaten at a great restaurant in Japan, you likely haven’t tasted great nori. For that reason Kawahara was thrilled to facilitate introducing this story of nori to an English speaking audience. But the story is not enough. Kawahara believes that the key to gaining fans is getting nori into their hands. After all, it’s the taste that will convince you.
This article has led to further collaborations with Kawahara. I recently worked as an consultant for his company’s new English language website. We are designing a pamphlet as well and hope to find ways to get premium nori into the hands of chefs and passionate home cooks in North America, Australia, Europe and beyond. Stay tuned as I’ll soon introduce in more depth a couple of my favorite nori products.