In the mid-1990s, a television personality from Denver often would fly down to our home in Tulsa. He and I would work on his show, the writing of his books, and other projects. Being an author and like-minded in some aspects, we would hone material for him to use in his various projects.
I clearly remember telling him one evening that we should go grab a bite to eat. He wanted sushi.
Sushi? I Don’t Think So!
My response: “There aren’t any places in Tulsa that serve sushi.”
“That can’t be true,” he replied. “These are the 1990s! In Denver, we have lots of places.”
So I pulled out the phone book
Note: About those phone books. I probably haven’t looked up a number in a phone book for a year or two. Have you? Who needs outdated phone books when Google is up-to-the-second in so many ways and a phone book is outdated the moment it rolls off the press. I call phone books “postal mail spam.” I hate them. I hate getting them. Why is the Left trying to get me to buy recycled paper (which I never do when given a choice) but they never go after the mountains of worthless paper being sent to every home in the nation more than once a year? With all the regional phone books out there, it seems we get three different, redundant, out-dated phone books annually. And I immediately trash each and every one of them.
Note: If you have a post office box, it gets worse. Last week, my wife experienced the same outrage I got a year ago when she went to pick up our business-related mail at the post office. (We don’t get outraged often; after all, we are calm, cool, comedic, right-thinking Christian conservatives.) She pulled out our mail and saw that a postal clerk left a Notice in the box. The Notice said that a package was available for us to pick up at the counter. (That was a lie, but why wouldn’t it be? Government employees lie habitually.) She stood in line behind the only clerks in the land to be slower than DMV clerks, and when she presented the notice of a “package,” the clerk handed her a phone book. “I had to stand in line to get this?” Jayne asked with a proper amount of disdain and disbelief.
Back to the story. You probably thought I forgot what we were talking about, right? Oh no, my brain’s like a series of 1,000 Cray Supercomputers networked together working in parallel. I pulled out a phone book to find a place in Tulsa that sold sushi. I had told him there would be none. He said there would be.
There was not one in the entire metropolitan area of 500,000 people.
Was I ever relieved! I sure didn’t want sushi!
The Past Isn’t the Present
In the late 1980s and early 90s when sushi began to come onto the national scene in America, my response to a meal of “raw fish” was reasonable:
- Raw meat and raw fish are dangerous.
- I won’t like raw fish.
Let’s face it, some strange foods will find their way into the culture for a while. The stranger, normally, the shorter the stay. Remember chocolate-covered ants and crickets? Most people don’t, but they were a “food” considered “all the rage” years ago. Sadly, there is a small movement bringing them back. Remember Tiger’s Milk? It was a “heath food drink” back when “health food” was little more than cardboard-tasting whole wheat pasta.
So sushi comes along, and like most Americans, I react with the two-pronged response above.
In my defense, those two objections, especially living through the wrong health fads in the late 60s through the early 80s and beyond when low-fat was wrongly considered healthy, immediately responding with “raw fish is dangerous” and “I won’t like it” are two not unreasonable responses.
I’m Such a Xenophobe. Oh, Really?
If you don’t know what xenophobe means, Google it.
Note: One of the houses I once owned to rent out was on a street called Xenophon. Xenophon isn’t Xenophobic; Xenophon was a Greek military leader. If you want to slowly build a wealthy real estate empire, you really should read Loving Landlording: How to Get the Best Tenants and Make the Most Money Letting Others Buy Real Estate for You. You’ll thank me later!
So, am I Xenophobic? Do I distrust, fear, or otherwise am ignorant of other cultures? Could that be why I was so opposed to sushi?
Do the literal years that Jayne and I spent traveling to numerous nations on earth, spending weeks and months enveloped in foreign cultures, taking Italian language classes for years, currently learning Greek, exploring the largest Egyptian pyramid in Cairo from the inside, hiring a 2-passenger puddle-jumper plane to take us to the top of New Zealand’s acclaimed ice glaciers and on the same day relaxing by New Zealand’s hot bubbling thermal springs an afternoon drive away, getting kidnapped on a trip to Singapore (this is true), to spending the night in the southern-most tip of the world in Tierra Del Fuego, a mistake I’m often accused of in my writing is not being “open” or “welcoming” to other cultures.
My life belies that as the obfuscating lies the Left says about people such as me.
I put my 100% voluntary world travel record, every cent paid for by me, up against anyone who says they are more open to other cultures than I am.
The reality is, the only culture most of the Left gets is in their store-bought, fructose-laden yogurt cups.
And yet… In spite of my world travels, I certainly wasn’t willing to try sushi. You know… because raw meat and fish is unhealthy and I wouldn’t like it.
Note: I have been a fish lover my whole life. Grilled, sauteed, fried, whatever. Except raw, of course. So it wasn’t the fish that bothered me, it was the raw fish. I’d smelled enough fish as a kid after fishing enough times, that I knew I wanted my fish cooked!
Welcome to the New Millennium
It’s now closer to 2020 than 2010 as I write this.
I just googled sushi restaurants in Tulsa. Remember when there were none? Today, multiple pages on google search results describe all sorts of places to eat sushi in the Tulsa area.
Sushi is a massive business in the United States and around the world. Surprisingly, China hasn’t been a big adopter of sushi, perhaps because of its xenophobic tendencies toward Japan. But China is beginning to awaken to sushi which will dramatically increase demand.
Millions eat sushi in America today. Why is that? Is it because raw fish is unhealthy and it tastes terrible?
Those two reasons were both healthy immediate responses to such a strange and raw food 20 years ago. But after millions in America are now huge fans, and after so many sushi places have opened, at all levels including high-end Japanese restaurants as well as in strip malls, we know two things:
- Eating sushi is no less safe than any other food out there. Otherwise, we’d be seeing story after story of people in hospitals sick and dying because of their trip to Sushi Supreme, and
- Sushi must be an exceptionally good-tasting food.
I was wrong on both counts. I am not sorry that was my first reaction 2 decades ago.
I am pleased that I was wrong on both counts.
I am unhappy it took me so long to learn that.
The Best Sushi on Earth is Located in a Japanese Subway
We have triggers in life. Some, such as on the Springfield-Armory, .45 caliber, full-sized 1911 at my side, is a nice, smooth trigger that hasn’t once let me down in practice and I know it won’t let me down if a situation ever requires it.
Other triggers are less physical. Such as the documentary I watched about the best sushi on earth. The best sushi on earth is in a little “hole in the wall” in the basement of a Japanese subway. This isn’t opinion, it’s fact. I wrote about it here: Why Not Be the Best on Earth Even if You Work in a Subway Basement?
When I first saw this documentary, I was still in my “Raw fish is dangerous, and I never will like raw fish mindset,” but I must admit, if I were in Japan right after watching that, I would have tried Jiro’s sushi. I actually have eaten at some of the world’s top restaurants; many of them in fact. I would be foolish not to eat at this little hole-in-the-wall in the basement of a Japanese subway. Given the chance to experience the best food on earth of anything, one would be short-sighted to miss that opportunity.
Jiro was the first crack in my wall against sushi. I had turned the corner. There was actually sushi on earth I would have tried. I said in my article I wouldn’t, but between you and me, oh yeah, I would have. Immediately if I were there.
That crack in my Noshi wall grew wider as I became more curious about sushi. I watched a couple of other documentaries on Netflix to see what all the hubbub was. The documentaries weren’t up to the quality of Jiro’s. Much of the primary one droned on and on about the environment and fish populations depleting due to people’s desire for sushi.
As the loser, now-dead Paul Ehlich proved against his will and everything he’d said in print before the bet, all limited resources increase with technology and time and more people, not the opposite. The way we stop any perceived (most are perceived) animal extinction is to put them on the menus of the best restaurants on earth. Man’s healthy desire to be productive will fix supply problems quickly. Always.
I Was On My Own
The next crack in my Noshi wall came when Jayne and I wanted to eat somewhere but didn’t want the “same old thing.” I knew of a new Japanese restaurant I’d been wanting to try. In college I had Teriyaki Chicken and have wanted it ever since but life got in the way. I figured, they probably will have it and at long last, I can eat Teriyaki Chicken once again! Yea!
We went in to find that their primary food was sushi. We weren’t going to try that… but Jiro and his dreams kept popping into my head! Would I actually do it? If so, Jayne certainly never would! Would she?
We sat down and told the waiter that we had never tasted sushi before and probably never would.
Here is the first sentence out of his mouth: (he obviously was trained in the Socratic method of teaching, or had a natural knack for it, or the restaurant owners knew exactly how to prepare their waiters) “Did you know that many sushi dishes are not raw?”
The Question Changed Everything
Let’s face it – who expected that question in a sushi restaurant?
Answer: Everybody who knows anything about sushi. If you take a Venn diagram of everybody who knows anything about sushi and everybody who doesn’t, I assure you that question would never appear in the intersection.
Note: I just lost all public school math teachers. A Venn diagram shows relationships between groups, often used to demonstrate ratios and correlations.
Note: Oops, I just lost all public school math and English teachers. A correlation is… Listen, it’ll just be easier if you’d ask any home-educated child to show you what a Venn diagram is. He or she will know and will be able to define all the related terms that confuse you along the way.
Not all sushi is raw? Now why didn’t anybody ever tell us that before?
We Left No Longer NoShi Eaters
As you can perhaps guess, we had sushi. We no longer were Noshis but now full-fledged sushi eaters.
Within a week, we had it again. This time in the raw!
I’ll tell you about that experience and teach you a little I learned along the way in Part 2.