There’s something fishy about today’s food holiday. Fishy in a good way! June 18 is INTERnational Sushi Day! We’re branching out and going global today.
International Sushi Day is a relatively new food holiday, having been created in 2009 after a successful Facebook campaign. I may just have to start a page to promote National Ketchup Day, which – as I’ve mentioned – does not exist. There’s something fishy about that, let me tell you.
Anyway. Today is also National Cherry Tart Day and International Picnic Day. We chose to celebrate sushi because A. we are sick of desserts, and B. we have to work, and the weather might be showery this evening, so a picnic isn’t in the cards. Besides, I love sushi! Tara does not…but when has that ever stopped us?
Sushi dates back to the 4th century B.C. in Southeast Asia. When fish were caught they were cleaned, gutted, and salted, and wrapped in rice; the natural fermentation of the rice acted as a preservative to keep the fish edible for months. When ready to eat, the rice was discarded. Sushi was introduced to Japan in the 8th century A.D. The Japanese liked to eat rice with their fish, which was still partially raw, so instead of a method of preparation, sushi became a meal itself. They began mixing vinegar in with the rice to recreate the tangy flavor without having to wait for fermentation to occur. Vegetables and other preserved foods were added to the mix, with each region of Japan relying on local ingredients to create specialized recipes. By the 19th century sushi had evolved to include fresh fish and seaweed, and finally resembled the dish we are familiar with today. Sushi didn’t appear in the West until much later. In 1953, Japan’s Prince Akihito introduced sushi to Britain and America (it was served at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.). During the 1970s Japanese businesses began expanding to the U.S., and sushi restaurants were opened to cater to their tastes. Sushi was a tough sell in America – few people could stomach the idea of eating raw fish – so the California roll was developed, consisting of cucumber, (cooked) crabmeat, and avocado. This was the perfect introductory vehicle for the American palate, and allowed people to gradually experiment with other types of sushi, notably raw fish. Sushi gained popularity in the U.S. during the health-conscious 1980s, and nowadays is a very popular dish both here and abroad.
We’re fortunate, because Fred Meyer – our local grocery-slash-everything-else-store, has a very good sushi bar. I go there often for a quick, tasty, and healthy lunch.