*Undersea stuff on cute wooden trays!* The Origin of Sushi
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A plausible story of the origin of sushi in Japan
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I want you to decide which origin story is the one you believe. If you hear of another, please email me.
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Friday, April 09, 2004

The Islands of JapanJapan is an island nation, its surrounding seas warmed by Kuroshio, the plankton-rich Japan Current, and abundant with an astonishing variety of fish and shellfish. The islands themselves are mountainous, Fishermanand what little arable land exists is terraced and carefully cultivated to coax rice and a few other crops from the earth. Japan has always fed its dense population from the sea and the rice fields, its cuisine emphasizing what nature provides. Sushi, the combination of raw fish and seasoned rice that seems so exotic to foreigners, is a supremely logical food in Japan.

Sushi began centuries ago in Japan as a method of preserving fish. It is told that the origins of sushi came from food cartcountries of Southeastern Asia. Cleaned, raw fish were pressed between layers of salt and weighted with a stone. After a few weeks, the stone was removed and replaced with a light cover, and a few months after that, the fermented fish and rice were considered ready to eat. Some restaurants in Tokyo still serve this original style of sushi, called narezushi made with freshwater carp. Its flavor is so strong that it obscures the fish's identity altogether, and narezushi is something of an acquired taste.

It bonitowasn't until the eighteenth century that a clever chef named Yohei decided to forego the fermentation and serve sushi in something resembling its present form. It became very popular and two distinct styles emerged Kansai style, from the city of Osaka in the Kansai region, and Edo style, from Tokyo, which was then called Edo. Osaka has always been the commercial capital of Japan, and the rice merchants there developed sushi that consisted primarily of seasoned rice mixed with other ingredients and formed into decorative, edible packages. sushi combotakoTokyo, located on a bay then rich with fish and shellfish, produced nigirizushi, featuring a select bit of seafood on a small pad of seasoned rice. Although the ornamental sushi of the Kansai region is still very popular, it is nigirizushi that foreigners are familiar with.
Today, even Japanese consider nigirizushi the origin of sushi, the truth is different. Kansai sushi (Osaka Sushi) has much more history and techniques than nigirizushi.

Quoted From The Sushi Club Web -

Alternate Origin Theory
not so plausible
anagoDid you know that Sushi was invented in Japan, but it was invented by a Frenchman? In 1865, Tokyo, a Frenchman opened his french bakery in downtown Tokyo. But 100 years ago, Japanese did not understand western food, and therefore his business was slow. But as the French baker observed: Japanese people like raw fish. How about trying topping my French bread with raw fish for a change? After the French baker topped his french bread with raw fish, Japanese citizens flooded his store. Then later, the Japanese replaced the bottom portion of sushi, which was the bread, with vinegar rice. Sushi's original name is actually "sumeshi". "Su" means vinegar. "Meshi" means rice. But when people start to say it fast "Sumeshi, sumeshi, sushi!" It became just "Sushi"!

From the Sushi Club, San Francisco, Website -

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This page has been constructed using images and information gleaned from web sites around the world, especially including the links shown above, and my own experience. If you have any suggestions or comments please email them to me. I've tried to included links to all the sources I have used for information on sushi from the WWW.