– “Do you want to do sushi tonight?” She asked me enthusiastically. – “I'll do no such thing,” was my cold response. – “Come on, you've got to try it. You'll love it.”
I say to myself, that fad isn't in vogue anymore anyhow. Besides, I've tried it before and I hated it.
– “No baby, no sushi for me.” – ” I promise. You'll develop a taste for it.” – ” I've already tried it and I hate it. My taste is already pretty developed. No room for growth anymore.” – “Oh, you're no fun.”
Sushi? Forget about it. Raw octopus with seaweed; that's shark food, for crying out loud. Pass me the sumac for my kabab koobideh and stand clear of my onion-scented breath.
The idea was (I think) that by embracing the Japanese diet, America will get closer to the Japanese culture and the U.S. firms will learn the Japanese style of management and start producing better automobiles and electronic equipment. So, in the eighties, everybody who was anybody, ate sushi and drank saki. But mediocrity is hard to overcome, and diets alone won't do the work
It's the “If you can't beat them, join them” mentality. Diets aren't meant to be fooled with. Raw seafood isn't my cup of green tea, baby! I want my food cooked, over fire, or in boiling water, but cooked nonetheless. I think fire is a great thing and we should use it. The primitive man went through a lot of trouble harnessing the flame and putting it to its best use. Now, who are we to interfere?
Frankly, I have this thing with Asian cuisine in general; namely, I don't like it! My Asian friends always complain about why I never finish my Kung Pao Chicken plate at the Chinese restaurant, while the chelo-kabab is always devoured to the last grain of rice. Well, excuuuse me! A plate of chelo-kabab before an Iranian; now that's a setting for a spiritual experience.
Have you ever noticed, when the plate is set down in front of us? Our whole facial expression changes, the look in our eyes becomes one of love, or shall I say, lust? We would eye the mound of rice, double check the location of raw onions on the table, roll up our sleeves, and start greasing the fluffy, separate, and slightly under-cooked rice with butter or egg yolks. Then the sumac will be sprinkled on the kabab, and with foreplay out of the way, the actual lovemaking would commence. This is complete and total bliss. Even fava bean rice with lamb shank wouldn't compare, let alone Kung Pao Chicken with salt-less, sticky rice. Give me a break!
The thing is, chelo-kabab is the food of the sultans. The Persian cuisine has evolved to appease the rage and tyranny of the often non-Iranian ruler of the land. It makes sure that, at least while he eats, the ruler is content and happy, and doesn't order any more executions (including that of the chef himself).
The Asian cuisine, on the other hand, has taken a different course. The aim here has been to feed the billions of mouths with whatever is available. And in Japan, for instance, not much is available, so no protein source is overlooked. No vegetable is excluded. How the food tastes is secondary. What's in it is what counts.
That night, I ended up compromising. We had Italian food. But that's another story.