Is Sushi Getting a Raw Deal?

Sushi may have become too popular for its own good

I remember when sushi was a completely foreign concept, a point of culinary trivia:

"Have you ever heard of a food call soo-shee?"
"No, what's that?"
"Raw fish."
"Ewww... people actually eat that?"

Nowadays, sushi is everywhere, and the folks at Chicago Tribune and Red Eye are questioning the popularity and authenticity of this (perhaps passé) fad.

A dish that once could only be found in small, out-of-the-way Japanese eateries can now be purchased in grocery stores, all-you-can-eat buffets, O'Hare kiosks, and even Wrigley Field. (Who knew sushi could be paired with Old Style?) There are maki rolls which, although creative, seem a bit less authentic when they're named after presidential candidates, sports teams, or places like Boston, Philadelphia, and Mexico. And the original, purist notion of "raw fish" can be completely passed over for rolls with cooked fish, cooked meat, or just veggies.

The argument can be made that this is just another chapter in the American phenomenon. This evolution of ethnic food is what happens when cultures are thrown together in our proverbial "melting pot." Fajitas aren't traditionally Mexican, the Chinese would be confused by our take-out versions of their food, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a deep-dish pizza in Italy. Additionally, international fusion restaurants (like "nuevo latino" Cuatro and French-Vietnamese Le Lan) are abound in Chicago, introducing diners to new and interesting flavors.

Purists and progressives alike among the Tribune staff have listed their favorite sushi spots. It's probably best to get the goods now, before we start seeing things like deep-fried maki or ngiri served on a doughnut.

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