Here’s an interesting idea that will (and should) never happen (UPDATE: A much better article can be found here – Thanks Stephen!) :
The number of sushi restaurants in the U.S. has doubled over the last 12 years, sparking a shortage of classically trained Japanese sushi chefs.
The Japanese government wants to send inspectors to certify autentic Japanese sushi in U.S. restaurants. They’re working out the details on the certification program.
As much as I respect the food traditions of any culture, I also understand that tastes and trends can and will change. Then add the fact that when you import a food into a different culture, you will almost always end up with a different take on whatever food, product or dish that has been imported.
Then, following the change in the dishes comes the inevitable cadre of purists who will tell you in no uncertain terms that what you are eating isn’t “authentic”.
Yes, I do count myself amongst the members of that cadre from time to time.
But exporting governmental accountability on how a tradition is applied in a different culture? Yeah, good luck with that. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating a Spicy Negihama Roll at Mashiko here in West Seattle. This roll containing hamachi, scallions, and cucumbers, then topped with garlic and shiracha sauce may not be Sushi in the traditional sense, but it certainly has it’s roots in sushi culture.
That being said, the first time I saw sushi being sold in a supermarket, I died a little inside.
UPDATE: Let me clarify my position. When I said that “Authentic Sushi” certification should never happen, I meant mandatory certification. I have no problem in any voluntary program, although I can’t see consumers being worked up enough to care whether their favorite sushi place is certified or not.