Supermarket Sushi


When I went to lunch with AJC food critic John Kessler the first time out, I took the opportunity to ask him a penetrating question. The question went like this: “So, Mr. Kessler, let’s let the cat out of the bag: what’s your secret junk food?”

“My secret junk food?”

“You know,” I continued, “what do you eat that’s not-so-gourmet? Like Twinkies? Or Hohos?”

“Oh I see,” he responded thoughtfully. “That’s easy. Supermarket sushi.”

What’s funny about that, I think, is that for many Americans supermarket sushi is the epitome of gourmet dining. In any case, it’s rather fascinating to think about the cultural journey sushi took from Japan, to hole-in-the-wall sushi joints in America, and finally to our supermarkets. I took this photograph tonight at Whole Foods and I think it says a lot about how the American machine takes something genuine and exotic and spins it into the ordinary and mundane. Now supermarket sushi is–in the eyes of John Kessler, and many others–just your average American junk food.

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