Evolving Sushi, And Peddling What’s Not Southern Food

Vulcan Roll Sushi From Tria Market, B'ham AL


Last month, the Washington Post ran an article, ‘Sushi Standards and the American Way‘:

…He knows dining all boils down to enjoyment, not some mystic quest for authenticity every time you enter an eatery.

Still, in his more reflective moments, he worries about the state of genuine Japanese sushi, the kind that requires years of training, an almost obsessive attention to detail and a passion for fresh, clean flavors.

Every Sunday evening, Av and I have a tradition that goes back to when we were first married: we eat very good sushi and watch HBO.  We’ve gone through years of the Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Carnivale, Big Love…and now we’re enjoying Luck (which stars someone that married one of Av’s relatives: Dustin Hoffman, which is cute!) while holding chopsticks.

But once or twice a year, we’ll go out for lunch and will try some new sushi place, which explains the two pics above, one called a ‘Vulcan Roll’ and the bottom one that I’ve already forgotten the name of, but came from just the kind of place that the Washington Post article discussed, a place where the menus are inside record covers, and they serve things like the ‘Velcro Pygmies Roll’.  Yeah.  It’s okay that once or twice a year, but we know Sunday night we’re getting our ‘real’ sushi.

This made me think about a conversation many people have been having about ‘what is Southern food’ — and the perception of it put forth by one particular network and one particular entertainer.  Southern food is sweet tea and fried chicken, but it is also collard greens (one of the healthiest foods you’ll find anywhere) and nearly-every-other-vegetable and tons of fruit, thanks to our very long growing season.  My children will tell you their favorite food — both of them will say this — is rutabagas.  Southern food is not what’s peddled by one television personality, but what’s prepared and served every day in real family Southern kitchens.

Just like the above, there are people and places and occasional times for everything.  But there is also beautiful foundation on which everything else stands (or falls).

Now I’m going to go have a vegetable plate lunch of collards, limas, peas, and a sweet potato or squash casserole at my favorite meat & three, where all guests are greeted with this sign:

Sign, Niki's West, Birmingham AL

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