Santa Barbara International Film Festival

I love sushi. Not just the taste, but the overall experience. For me, sushi is an event – there is ceremony, pageantry, and tradition that I love and respect but know is beyond me historically. It is the only eating experience that, when I receive what will always be a rather expensive bill, I’m not even sort of guilty. To me, that would be the equivalent of feeling bad for paying to see fine art, or an amazing live show. In many ways I consider myself a sushi purist; I avoid rolls with sauces and tempura-covered-whatever, and you can kindly spare me the cream cheese. Nigiri and sashimi are my presentations of choice, and I never stray. One of the vital things, to me, about the sushi experience is giving deference to the sushi chef. When I was in Japan many years ago in a hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant with six seats, I was set straight by the not-so-jolly chef behind the immaculately clean counter. Everything was made clear via pantomime, but I gathered quickly what sushi etiquette was all about. He did not offer soy sauce, or wasabi, and I wasn’t allowed to point at anything  in request. He took my cash before seating me, and began serving whatever he so desired – and it was heavenly. Before I stood to leave he raised his eyebrows inquisitively – I enthusiastically nodded my thanks, at which point he produced a barely-friendly grunt and stepped away through the kitchen door. A master […]

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