A week after graduating from Berkeley in 1987 with my highly useful and practical degree in modern Japanese literature, it seemed like hitchhiking around Japan was as good an idea as any. I wound up having some wonderful adventures and stayed for 15 years, much of it working for the Prime Minister's office as an editor and ghostwriter (I specialized, of all things, in esoteric Japanese politicians).
The everyday grind of politics took a lot of coffee for me to remain barely conscious, but the food in Japan--in restaurants, in markets, and, especially, at home--got all the right juices flowing. I started to cook with Japanese ingredients in whatever way caught my fancy, which both surprised and delighted many of my Japanese guests, including two editors from different houses who asked me to write cookbooks based on my "breakaway" methods and approach.
I returned to the United States, Rip van Winkle-like, in 2002, to San Francisco, where I began hanging out in the wonderful world of ethnic markets, especially Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets, and combining ingredients from those places with the astounding bounty of Bay Area farmers' markets. That combination--staples from the world's great culinary traditions plus local produce and meats--forms the backbone of what I call breakaway cooking, which stresses simplicity, ease, and powerful flavors above all else.
I've written three cookbooks: The Breakaway Cook (Morrow), The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen (Kodansha International), and Eric's Kitchen (Kadokawa Shoten, in Japanese).
Olivia Blumer, The Blumer Literary Agency
Doctors Without Borders
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