I feel somewhat oddly as I get more personal in Sushi Otaku, however I guess that’s the point of these posts sometimes, eh? But one issue I thought I’d touch on is sushi and dating. I’ve been eating sushi for a long time. When I started to get interested in “The Real Date” (as opposed to the high school whatever happens, happens kind of date) it was obvious to me that a Japanese restaurant would be a place I would choose. I’m that kind of guy.

These days, it’s easier to go out to a sushi-ya on a date, however 15 years ago, they weren’t so numerous and sushi wasn’t as popular. Back then, I would make sure to go to a restaurant that had other options, such as teriyaki and other cooked, western friendly items. Sometimes it wasn’t hard to get my date to try the squid (ika) or the uni (sea urchin), but more often it was a no-go and I never pressed the issue. It was often great for conversation, though, as I munched away on my bowl of shrimp heads or monkfish liver (mmmmm, ankimo).

As time passed, I got older and palates became more sophisticated. More people knew of and ate sushi and it was not as uncommon to drag someone to a basement sushi-ya that you couldn’t even see from the street and have the best sushi you’ve had in a while (and I love New York City for that). I was always good with etiquette questions and identifying the unusual items, and the conversation changed from the “what the heck are you eating” kind of chat to “hey, that looks interesting, what is it?” type of conversation. Dates weren’t about impressing someone any more (well, not as much) and evolved into appreciating the food we ordered, and each other.

One technique, however, that was sure to impress (or so I thought) was to pop what was left of the wad of wasabi (I always order the real stuff when available) into my mouth at the end of the meal and chew away. With bright red face I would check the gag reflex and pretend that all was well. Did the chicks dig it? Well, they sure thought I was crazy, and in your twenties that’s not a bad thing (as long as you not a total wing nut). My wife makes fun of me to this day for showing off in that way with her. The combination of date and sushi became easier and more interesting as sushi caught on, while my adventurousness no longer had the impact it once had. But, it wasn’t a bad thing. The date should be about the date and not wondering why some guy is popping shrimp eyes between his incisors.

I no longer date, for obvious reasons, and my wife is a great sushi partner. We do still go out on “dates” to our favorite sushi-ya when we can get someone to watch the kids. It no longer impresses her when I eat my wasabi (it became a habit from overuse), but I can still whip out an offhand sushi fact that she hasn’t heard yet, which is nice. The food is good and the conversation better. I just wish the itamae would stop skimping on the wasabi.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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