The History of Raw Fish in my family

Last weekend’s Sunday lunch gathered the entire family at Sushi King. Honestly, sushi wouldn’t have been my first choice, and not because I don’t like it. In fact, I’m rather fond of sushi, at times anyway. I’m the one who introduced the rest to sushi, or at least I tried, a long while ago. It didn’t take. Except for Juan, who’s been a big fan for years now. And now Arianna is dragging me to one sushi place or another constantly, as if there weren’t any other choices at all. But I’ll get to that later.

Good sushi is expensive. And, truthfully, I was already close to going over budget for the week. On top of that, I’ve already dipped into savings once this month because I went over budget a few weeks in a row. (Did I mention that these furlough paychecks are going to be the death of my good financial intentions?) So, a last-minute, command-performance invite to a sushi lunch with every member of my immediate family was the last thing I wanted to hear first thing Sunday morning.

Ten years ago I could barely get Arianna to try sushi, and she proclaimed that she didn’t like it. OK, what she really said was “Raw fish? Ewww!” When Tomas came onto the scene, there was less likelihood of either of them trying anything “exotic.” They stuck to meat and potatoes, and he introduced her to Central American food. Even her cooking is less seasoned than my preference. So when I started to get invites from them to sushi, my first reaction was “to what?”

Fast forward to today and you get a scene where the two of them are inviting the rest of us to new sushi places every other week. My brother-in-law never remembers what he likes from one restaurant to the next; she does all the ordering for both of them. The cynic in my wants to say that they are showing off. Good sushi, as I’ve mentioned, is expensive, a luxury for us. She likes telling others that she had sushi. She likes recommending places to her coworkers, who don’t eat out as often. I don’t know that that’s the truth, but it’s what I sort of believe.

You’d have to know my sister to understand why I think that’s the motivation, even if she may not be aware of it. She won’t go to a restaurant were she has to stand in line to order and pick up her food. The one exception to that is Cafe Express, and that’s only because it’s one of my mother’s favorite places. Arianna likes being waited on, eating places that everyone else isn’t going to, and saying “you need to try that.” That influences where we can go eat.

Of course, when we all go out together, little sister tends to get the deciding vote. Her husband used to question us about it. He couldn’t understand why we ended up deferring to her preferences when choosing where to go. After a few years of marriage (or maybe less than that) he realized that she’s just incredibly vocal about her disappointments when little things go wrong. If, on top of the small things, she’s also at a restaurant she didn’t want to go to in the first place, then she’ll spend the rest of the day/week/whatever telling you how you screwed up. Really, it’s just easier on everyone if we let her pick. And that explains why I’ve had so much sushi lately.

The interesting thing about the whole sushi experience is that, in fact, everyone ate sushi. Well, everyone except for my mother (no surprise), David and Luis. But you have to provide exceptions for four-year-olds. And, really, Luis (my other brother-in-law) wouldn’t even touch pork chops when he first married into the family, so maybe sushi is expecting too much.

However, Linda, and her kids Alicia and Adam, were all eating sushi. For me the big surprise was Adam, who was once the pickiest eater on the face of the planet. I guess he still might be. He couldn’t find anything to eat at Hugo’s brunch, so we had to stop inviting them to go. He wouldn’t try hummus when we went to Greek food. I guess I could go on with one example after another. The point is that his eating, and liking, sushi is always a source of amazement. At least for me.

The fun part is eating. We all say “try this” and pass along plates from one end to the other, delighting in the things others ordered. We ask the names of dishes, as if we’ll order them the next time, and compliment each other on good decisions. We experiment with ginger and wasabi, changing the quantities from one bite to the next. We practice our chopsticks technique until we can use them to eat rice out of a bowl, and watch each other try not to destroy the rolled slices before they make it into our mouths. And we do all this without a single argument marring the lunch.

I’m not going to go on and on about the food itself. Honestly, I barely remember what I ordered. I do know that I liked it, and that others seemed to like it too. And I know that the bill was high enough that I had to pay my portion on a credit card, which I was hoping not to have to use. Which is worse: to use a credit card or to pull money out of savings for lunch?

Author: Paloma Cruz

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