While I don't claim to be a foodie, I can't expect to blog about food without occasionally venturing into foodie territory. In this case, I’m talking about sushi. I'm a complete novice when it comes to sushi, and my ignorance causes me to view all sushi eaters with suspicion. Suspicion and a touch of disdain. The same way I judge main course salad eaters and Starbucks coffee drinkers. I can’t help but question their motives.
My daughter, however, loves sushi. She honestly loves it. Unlike my son, she possesses no tendencies toward food snobbery, so I know her love of sushi is genuine. That’s why I recently decided to take my daughter to Piranha Killer Sushi to see what all the fuss was about.
We arrived at Piranha on a cold and rainy Tuesday, so we had no trouble getting a table. We were seated promptly and presented with warm, moist towels and chopsticks. I wasn't sure what to do with either of these things. I watched two uber cool women at the next table rubbing their chopsticks together like they were trying to start a fire. I assumed that this was some sort of honing ritual performed exclusively by sushi aficionados and people who are generally better than me. Meanwhile, I struggled like a Neanderthal to break my chopsticks apart and then practiced using them to pick up random objects such as the aforementioned and ultimately superfluous wash cloths.
Our server, Kevin, was highly knowledgeable about all the menu items, answering questions and offering suitable suggestions without making me feel like a hillbilly. His attentiveness throughout the meal was so accurately timed, it bordered on the supernatural. Since neither my daughter nor I had eaten much that day, we attacked our food with record-breaking speed, but Kevin stayed on top of his game, always a step ahead. As soon as we finished our first appetizer, the second one arrived. As soon as we swallowed the last bite of it, (I said we were hungry), our entrees appeared. When my Diet Coke was nearly empty, Kevin was there with a replacement. When we ate the last of our sushi, Kevin materialized to see if we wanted dessert. When we declined - pouf! Kevin produced the bill out of thin air. I can honestly say, I have never experienced service with that level of efficiency.
Starting with a familiar appetizer of pork and vegetable dumplings eased my entry into the world of sushi. Familiar, yes, but there was nothing ordinary about these plump, lightly seared dumplings, punctuated with spicy orange marmalade. We certainly weren’t expecting six of these bad boys for just $5.25.
Our second appetizer was one that Kevin suggested, the salmon ceviche with jalapeno, cilantro and mango. Skillful editing of the spicy-savory-sweet triumvirate enhanced the flavor of the salmon without overpowering it. In other words, it was tasty.
For our entrees, my daughter went purist with the tuna rolls, while I went with the more substantial Sexy Roll, a combination of shrimp tempura, ginger cream and cilantro topped with avocado, crawfish and mango. It should be renamed the Virgin Roll, as in “how have I gone all these years without it?”
At the end of the meal, I took a moment to look around at my fellow sushi diners, expecting to see a roomful of stylies. (Fashion’s version of a foodie.) Instead, I saw one table of about six young guys in sweatshirts who looked like they were probably well-versed in the video game arts, all of them quietly intent on enjoying their food. Over at the sushi bar, I saw a Doug Heffernan look-alike in a Dallas Cowboys jersey, looking similarly satisfied.
And that’s when I had this epiphany. People, I realized, eat sushi because they genuinely like it, not because they’re better than me. I learned an important lesson about humanity -our love of food is the great equalizer. With the exception of certain lower life forms who pretend to enjoy meals consisting entirely of salad.