Sushi

2005-08-27

Tonight I was subjected to what seemed to be the most villainous culinary nemesis I have ever faced. I want this story to serve as a warning to any others who naively think that this is one of those foods you only hear about on the news, never thinking it could happen to them. It's a real danger, and a treacherous wolf in seaweed's clothing: sushi.

Kevin and I, unaware of the thorough beating our appetites were to be administered, foolishly began the night with the hope of a jolly outing at Tal's house. Tal, having recently spent a week at a Chicago summer culinary camp, insisted he be allowed to unleash his savory arsenal of plats de jour before our respective je ne sais quoi's. Mostly indiscriminate eaters, we accepted without hesitation, and unwittingly marked ourselves for destruction.

I'd never hitherto tasted sushi, or ever especially wanted to do so, but Tal insisted it was delicious. Not man enough to contest the opinion of the imposingly titled Summer Culinary Arts Camp Graduate, I blindly accepted the invitation. Tal returned from buying the ingredients just as I got to his house, and he immediately set to work on the preparation.

The context clues I've gathered throughout my life all indicated that sushi was something like chopped fish served with rice, and maybe some seasoning-- a tolerably familiar food that I wouldn't have any real trouble eating, and possibly even enjoying. Tal revealed my ignorance as he walked us through the steps to making our very own delicous sushi platter.

We began with a thin sheet of seaweed. It didn't help my appetite that seaweed is most famous for coiling around the legs of unsuspecting swimmers to simulate the threat of a sea monster. It was, however, somehow tamed and flattened into origami paper-like sheets, such that if there had been perforated shapes to pull out and play with, they very well could have been grass-flavored Fruit Roll-ups.

Then, Tal dunked a handful of rice in vinegar, swished it around for a bit, and plopped it on the seaweed paper, making the rice soggily glisten in the light. The purpose therein was twofold: first, to give the sushi substance and texture, and second, to make it look more disgusting. Adding sliced vegetables on top of the rice, he rolled it up and revealed to us the final product. Assuring us the seaweed wasn't "usually that resistent," Tal sliced pieces for each of us. Kevin and I spent the next half hour waiting to see who would touch it first.

I'm sorry to those who defend the virtues of sushi, despite the compelling evidence against it. In fact, I congratulate those who have mastered their senses such that they can enjoy it, and wish them all the best. In my case, though, all I saw when I looked at our supposed masterpiece was a failed burrito. Mexico got it right the first time.

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