Neologism Of The Sea

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:42 am

Growing up in Hawaii in the late 70’s/early 80’s gave me an interesting childhood relationship with sushi. Sushi in Hawaii does not embody the magic and mystery of the Orient that it does in much of the rest of the nation. Many things that seem exotic in other environs are commonplace in the 50th state, due to the crucible of interacting cultures there.

Much like raw fish (enjoyed most commonly as poke’), sushi in Hawaii inhabits a couple of different culinary and cultural strata; a more commonly accessible niche as well as that of more traditional haute cuisine. It is considered much more of a casual snack—surfer food, even—than it is elsewhere. Sushi is sold in grocery stores and okazuya in a couple of basic forms. None of the highfalutin’ cuisine with its delicate slices of otoro or glistening drapery of uni. The sushi of the proletariat in the islands is available in either maki (roll) or inari (cone) form. There is no raw fish involved, nothing that might easily spoil. It is a simple delivery device for vinegared rice and a few largely shelf-stable wraps and fillers. It was not until I got to the mainland that I was introduced to the wonders of nigiri.

Now as a semi-official Northwsterner and left-coaster, I am in the midst of an intense and abiding love affair with sushi. I can sit down and polish off twenty or thirty pieces without batting an eye. There’s just something about the one-two protein/carb punch of fresh fish and rice that stimulates my yummy centers like little else. Even the protein warhead of a big ol’ rib eye steak can’t touch it. A massive slab of charred cow leaves me turgid and logy, while a party platter of sushi leaves me bright-eyed and ready for action….the primary action coming to mind being the consumption of more sushi. Maybe it’s all the dissolved antidepressants suffused throughout the fresh fish that does it….

I don’t eat sushi as much as would be my druthers; Margaret does not eat raw fish (a phobia leftover from her courses in parasitology in vet school), so I am forced to pursue my passion solo or in the company of the occasional like-minded friend (hi Curt!). As a result my encounters with sushi are relatively few and far between. And sometimes I have to find ways to palliate my cravings in between hot man-on-fish sessions.

Many high-end grocery stores in the Northwest such as Trader Joe’s sell a form of sushi substitute that will temporarily quell the longing. These are trays of mass-produced maki rolls: gluey, semi-pulverized sushi rice filled with a crabesque-salad mixture of pollock, mayonnaise and other flavorings. They bear the same relationship to bona fide sushi as a plastic-wrapped lozenge of binder-infused chopped/formed/pressed turkey meat bears to an actual ten pound tom with garlic-sage stuffing.

The product is by no means sushi, but the size and shape, coupled with the ritualized movements of chopstick and pool of wasabi and shoyu, can temporarily trick the mind into thinking that you are ingesting the real thing. Basically, this stuff is the methadone of sushi.

The other day, whilst gamely masticating a tray of the stuff, I came up with the perfect, the signature name for this product:

mocki. 💡

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