Proof: The Darden chain restaurant, Olive Garden, claims they send their cooks to Italy to invent spaghetti pie and lasagna rolls, and we know that it’s a marketing ploy, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Authentic? No. Delicious? Yes.
Asian influenced cuisine is no different. Anyone who has watched the original “Iron Chef” can blatantly see that what’s cultural authentic differs from their local Panda Bamboo China 1 Super Buffet. Why? Because no one wants to see Kelp Braised Squid Beak next to General Tso’s chicken.
It’s because this simple truth—it’s shocking to see how popular sushi has gotten during the past 10 years, but especially in the south. I love it!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good chicken fried steak swimming in country gravy with mashed potatoes as much as the next fat southern American, but there is something about sushi that is just magical. Give me few spicy tuna rolls with a vat of sriracha sauce, and I’m a happy man.
The beauty of the sushi craze in American cuisine is that everyone has a favorite spot. Mine is a little gem in Clermont called Fancy Sushi. It’s nothing spectacular in appearance, and most of the staff speaks broken English, but every time you enter the restaurant, you are treated like their guest. And here is where I find that little slice of authenticity.
The meal usually begins with some kind of delicious tempura cream cheese and crab appetizer, and ends with a segmented orange with sesame seed to cleanse your pallet. I only assume this is their business model since I’ve never been charged for it. Looks a lot like home-cooked southern hospitality to me.
It makes you wonder though, where American tastes will progress over time? Growing up I’d commonly heard the phrase “SUSHI?!? Where I come from we call that bait!”
It’s bait all right and they’ve caught me hook, line, and sinker. I never knew I’d love it so much. Maybe it’s just a great tasting vehicle to get sriracha sauce in my mouth. Either way, I say, “Give me sushi, or give me death!”
P.S. Chopsticks are fun.