I recall a few months ago, there was a big debate here as to what makes things authentic. I think the big fire finally ignited when people discussed whether or not, in order for certain foods to be prepared right, it needed to be a person from that cuisine’s nation.
To some degree, I agree to this. The less known the cuisine, I think I will trust a person from that nation to be cooking to be more authentic, closer to how it would taste back in whatever country that it came from. I mean....I don’t know if I'll trust a restaurant declaring to be making authentic Egyptian Cuisine, if the restaurant was in middle of nowhere USA, and the chef there was a Mexican person - for example.
But here's my thoughts on the subject....especially when it comes to Sushi.
Since it's gotten so popular, and since most of you non-Japanese people have gotten over, “OMG my food is RAW!! You're feeding me FISH BAIT!” at the sight of a Sashimi Platter Combo A, Sushi has come a long way - making classes within its own.
Supermarket/Deli/Takeout Sushi - we got these in Japan too. They look like sushi, they kinda taste like sushi but we all know it’s only to be eaten when you really want sushi, and can’t find the time or money to go get the real thing.
Adventurous Sushi - or sometimes known as Fusion Sushi. I mean - I think most of you will have to agree that rolling up a stick of Philadelphia Cream Cheese is NOT a very “authentic” Japanese Sushi... But some of the strange contents works. I'm sure there are people out there that will declare the California Roll a legitmate authentic Sushi. (Not to mention, I've had an UBER California Roll in Japan that consisted of very expensive fresh crab meat, and not that "crab like meat product").
Good Sushi - probably made by your local neighborhood Sushi joint you go every other week or so. It's not too expensive and it certainly does the trick when you want Sushi. At times, it's not as good as you'd like it to be, but certainly much much better that Supermarket Sushi. While you might not be able to check out the flown in Akashi-Tako, you'll certainly be able to enjoy fresh catch from your local harbor.
Uber Sushi - You're ready to spend the big bucks. You're really going for that smuggled in Fluke from Japan. You want nothing but the best. It'll cost you as much as airfare to Japan, but since you can't take a week vacation to get there, this is the next closest thing.
In New York, I've seen all sorts of nationalities and races make every level of these Sushis. Although it tends to be that Japanese chefs hang out in “good” and “uber” sections, I've seen some strange sushi's coming out of Morimoto's too. I've also seen non-Japanese person handle the delicate imported items from Japan with as much care as any Japanese chef. So I don't think it needs to be a Japanese person to make a decent sushi.
Then what do I look for when selecting a Sushi place? Does it have to be “authentic” - whatever that definition may be?
It's the result of strange calculations between my wallet and my degree of craving.
Hence a Sushi Party Combo B from a Chinese takeout that morphed into Japanese takeout is usually as real a sushi and as close to authentic as it gets for me on many occasions.
PS> I hope Alice returns to writing soon because I don't have any pretty pictures....... ><