Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sushi + Christmas

You can compare sushi to Christmas. Here's how it works: if you aren't a sushi chef, and I am assuming you aren't, and you attempt to make sushi at home (which most of us don't) you will know first hand that it's nearly impossible to make. Don't get me wrong, you can do it but the process is labor intensive and the finished product is usually decent at best. In the end, the rolls that took you most of the day to make are gobbled up in 3 seconds.

Making sushi is a condensed version, a replica, a 1/64 scale of Christmas. Hours, days and months are spent determining what your family member wants. Scratching down ideas, picking up on hints, doing the necessary research of where to get it, and on and on. Like making sushi, you don't want to start too early because tastes change (sushi goes bad), and prices vary. You don't want to wait too long either because of crowds and availability, shipping time, and the chances someone else already got the pajamas is great. Wait until the last minute to make an eel and avocado roll and, well, you won't have sushi.

So comes Christmas day and the moment you are ready to eat the fresh cut rolls. Looking pretty in bows and decorative paper (the presents under the tree), the kids tear into it. Every year you want to make the act deliberate and measured. "Stevie you open 1 present, then let your sister Cindy open 1," mom says. "Okay mom," says Stevie. For 1 or 2 presents the new method works, then chaos breaks loose and the attention span of a 4-year-old clicks from "I can do it" to "Uhh no." And in an instant, that fleeting moment of controlled chaos becomes a mass of wrapping paper, cardboard, plastic, and drunken toy joy.

The sushi experiment is the same way. Buy the paper, make the sticky rice, get the freshest ingredients, shop all over town for the equipment, labor over it, roll it, make it look pretty, cut it like your local shop and present it. Like opening presents you attempt to maintain some self-control: eat a roll, rest, sip some Asahi, clean your palate with ginger, and dive back in. For 1 roll it works, then you refer back to the uncontrolled state and rolls disappear with blinding speed. Next thing you know, the rolls are gone and you sit in that same drunken stupor that unwrapping presents creates.

So in a weird twist of imagination Christmas and sushi are the same. Both are hard work, both get you drunk and full, and ultimately you do both all over again.

Long live Christmas
日本語 長く生きているクリスマス