In my journal I wrote, "The wide availability of sushi now provides the ordinary person with the illusion of luxury and refinement." But is sushi really a luxury cuisine now that people can buy sushi to-go at local supermarkets? Sushi was more luxurious in the late 1970s and 1980s when sushi first appeared on the American dining scene. In those days, sushi easily cost $50 per person and only expensive sushi restaurants served it. Most of my high school friends refused to try it, especially once they saw the raw fish. I relished their squeamishness my salmon roe maki topped with raw quail egg yolk. Splendid.
Sushi to go: A spicy salmon maki with avocado, cucumber and spicy aioli aka mayo.
Sushi now sells in most major grocery stores and lunch places sell sushi by the pound. Some places even offer customized sushi made on the spot sushi bar style. Alas, these places do not offer as much variety as higher end restaurants but that is to be expected. Specialized items such as sea urchin and salmon roe do not appeal to most diners and are probably harder to keep fresh. Other fish, such as yellowtail, are too expensive and most lunch places substitute yellow fin tuna or escolar for yellowtail. The proprietor of one lunchtime place confided that yellowtail costs $22 per pound, too expensive to sell for lunch prices. I just wish she would take it off the menu already.
Perhaps there is still a sense of sushi's appeal to those who eat it. Despite its growing popularity, not everyone enjoys it. One co-worker characterized it as "fishy and yucky." Fishy and yucky plays directly into the sushi's appeal as an exotic delicacy for those who have acquired the taste for it. Was my journal entry right after all? Does eating sushi provide the illusion of luxury and refinement?