I love sushi. This comes as no surprise to those who know me. Maybe it’s the freshness of the fish, the spicy wasabi, my inclination for slightly adventurous eating, or maybe it’s because of my love for all things Japanese. All I know is that I love the stuff.
The truth is, sushi didn’t originate in Japan! The origin of sushi can be traced back to Southeast Asia where it moved to China, and finally found a home in Japan and became popular sometime during the Edo period (between 1603 and 1868.) Sushi wasn’t always raw either! Before sushi as we know it today became an early version of “fast food,” it was a technique used to preserve fish by wrapping it in soured fermenting rice. The rice was then thrown away, and the fish consumed. Once sushi found a home in Japan, the fish was combined and eaten with rice and eventually raw ingredients were introduced. Sushi as we know it today wasn’t around until the 19th century, the popular nigiri sushi (a small mound of packed rice with a piece of raw fish draped over it) was popular among street vendors.
The sushi available at Festival Foods stores typically falls into three categories: the nigiri sushi mentioned above, maki-zushi, and uramaki. The biggest difference between maki and uramaki sushi is the location of the rice. In maki-zushi, meaning “roll sushi,” the rice is located inside of the nori (the green seaweed based covering.) Uramaki, meaning “inside out sushi” the rice is located on the outside of the nori.
Because of the high price, sushi was something I could eat only on special occasions and I usually had to travel to a restaurant in a neighboring town to enjoy. Thanks to Festival Foods moving into my home town (Fond du Lac) I was able to enjoy more sushi and expand my experience with the Japanese culinary delight. Thanks to Sushi Wednesday, for just five of my hard earned dollars I was able to eat one of my favorite treats more often than just a few times per year! Festival’s sushi was just as good as what I had eaten in restaurants and much cheaper. At first I was hesitant to try “grocery store sushi” but I felt like I could trust the immaculately clean Festival Foods to offer a tasty and fresh product.
Okay, so I’ve managed to talk you into trying this jubilant Japanese wonder. You’ve even gone to your local Festival Foods to pick up some sushi (hopefully on a Wednesday.) So now what? You’ve got this raw fish rice seaweed stuff in one hand and two skinny sticks in the other thinking “what the heck do I do? Can’t I use a fork?” Did you know that there are proper ways of eating sushi? Though sushi etiquette isn’t always necessary when you’re eating in the privacy of your home (in this case you can use a fork) but if you find yourself eating in public or at a sushi bar, try these helpful tips:
>It’s okay to use your hands! Not everyone in the US knows how to properly use chopsticks but don’t let that keep you from enjoying some tasty sushi. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with your hands whether at home or in a restaurant.
>Eat each piece in one bite! Though acceptable to eat it in two bites, it is considered rude to put a half-eaten piece of sushi back on your plate. The rule of thumb is to finish what you pick up.
>Use the blunt side of the chopsticks (if you choose to use them) on a shared plate of sushi.
>It’s okay to ask the chef what’s good! In fact, it shows respect for what he/she does, and that you trust their professional opinion.
>Don’t put your ginger directly on your sushi! The ginger is there to cleanse your palate between bites.
Personally, I really like the sushi Festival offers. It’s good quality and made fresh with the freshest fish that you can get in Wisconsin. Unlike some other supermarket sushi, ours is made within full view of our guests. You can see the freshness as much as you can taste it. Thanks for reading; I hope you’ve emerged from this blog a more enlightened individual …at least when it comes to sushi. If you’ll excuse me, I have some sushi to eat. As the Japanese say, say “Itadakimasu!” いただきます (ee-tah-dah-kee-mahss) (“Let’s eat!” or “Thanks for the food!”)