2007-06-30

Tuna and sushi

A long, but interesting and informative article from Vanity Fair: If You Knew Sushi (June 2007)

In it, Nick Tosches tells you lots about Tokyo's Tsukiji Market as the global clearing house for tuna, how sushi gradually gains acceptance amongst (the more health conscious) Americans, and much more.

Kabuki opened in downtown New York in early 1961. "Not all of the dishes at the Kabuki will appeal to American palates. Count among these sashimi, or raw fish," wrote Craig Claiborne in the Times. Nippon, with its sushi bar, opened in Midtown Manhattan in 1963, the year that Ronald McDonald entered the world through the McMiracle of parthenogenesis. "New Yorkers seem to take to the raw fish dishes, sashimi and sushi, with almost the same enthusiasm they display for tempura and sukiyaki," wrote Claiborne. But McDonald's Filet-o-Fish sandwich, introduced in 1964, was the real vanguard of fish-eating in America.

In July 1971, McDonald's came to Japan, opening in the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store, in Tokyo. It was the summer before that first New England tuna to be auctioned at Tsukiji made its transoceanic journey.

The ascent of sushi's popularity in urban America in the years 1972 to 1982 was phenomenal, as was its ascent throughout the rest of the country in the decades that followed. This ascent reached its peak on January 1, 2004, when a place called Tiger Sushi opened at the Mall of America, in Minnesota. Since then, like the ruler of two domains, sushi has reigned as America's new favorite fast food and favorite slow food as well, and its imperium is extending to Europe and beyond.

Both this and a recent article by 蔡瀾 in Next Magazine (壹週刊) state clearly that salmon is not supposed to be eaten raw, since "its movement between freshwater and salt water renders it the host to many parasites". However, many sushi/sashimi eateries, especially those outside of Japan at cheap-eat places, sell raw salmon as delicacy. Beware!