Walk around your local grocery store and you’ll find your fresh fruits and veggies, your canned foods, your dairy needs, your basic entertaining and cleaning supplies. And, naturally, your sushi. Supermarket sushi has become commonplace across both the United States and in countries abroad, with stores even setting aside large sections for sushi bars, complete with gargantuan, day-old concoctions of spicy mayo–laden rainbow and shrimp tempura rolls, frozen shumai and mushy edamame. Even pharmacies are getting in on the action — you’re just as likely to find a California roll as your favorite brand of shampoo at the nearest CVS.
It’s all rather disgusting, to be honest. We’ve written before about etiquette while eating sushi, and some have called us nitpicky. But soggy seaweed, hard rice and cold tuna are keys to no one’s heart — the transformation of sushi from special-occasion delicacy to Aisle 8 product is on another level altogether.
Finally, the Japanese government has set up a program to protect its prized food’s reputation worldwide. According to The Telegraph, the new system will offer all overseas chefs training in Japan before issuing gold, silver or bronze status to them. It’s a serious move from a country that has always been serious about its food. Call it a food intervention of sorts.
The hope is that this certification will help correct mistakes commonly made by chefs overseas, such as mishandling raw fish, maintaining low standards of hygiene and using incorrect kitchen equipment. Another aspect of the course will focus on the ceremonial ways in which the cuisine should be presented to diners. The entire process is, of course, voluntary, but the Japanese government is hoping that chefs preparing sushi in foreign countries will want to showcase an official validation of their craft — and that consumers will come to elevate their own standards and come to expect and appreciate excellence instead of settling for that spider roll located in Aisle 8.