Sunday, December 2, 2012

Confessions of a Sushi Addict



I am well aware that I possess some addictive gene. It's strange to me that it does not translate to things like Pilates, beet smoothies or kale.

For years I have been trying to 'do fewer life-ending things' – with some success! No cigarettes, no sugar, no caffeine, limited alcohol except for holiday binging, all complemented by sporadic self-inflicted fitness-based activity.

I just re-read the paragraph above:  interesting that the only things I’ve done permanently are deleting nicotine, sugar and caffeine.  Doesn’t research say these are the most addictive things?  Should I NOT be able to conquer EVERYTHING bad and addict myself only to GOOD? The Jedi Mind Trick Plan?

In my quest for addiction-conquering (to which I have not yet addicted myself) I was recently traumatized when, after all this work, a new addiction cropped up. There I was: one day eliminating triggers, and the next ensnared by a tuna roll.

Sushi. 

Who knew?

To be honest, I've know for some time I have the potential for food-addictions, but I thought these were isolated incidents.  Cake, for example – particularly white cake of the wedding ilk -- was a downfall my whole life. Fortunately, we attend a wedding every three years so that took care of itself.

But when I was pregnant with my second child, I developed such a thing for McNuggets, I'd drive to the closest McD's each morning, for weeks, ‘til I'd literally devoured our grocery budget. 

It was hideous, sitting in my own guilt each morning inside what I’d come to view as "my parking space" – the one around back where employees park, with a birds-eye view of the Drive-Thru Line, snaking around secret corners and Disney-esque turns.  I sat there impatiently tapping my wristwatch, hoping to time-travel to 'soon' or ‘now’ or ‘FINALLY’ when McDs migrated from breakfast to lunch …

  so I could be first in line for my Thirty-Pack Family-Sized Trough O’ McYummy.  It was a Hefty-bag sized portion -- the bulk of which I could hardly get into my mouth fast enough while speeding past window-staff.

It was this past Halloween that I became addicted to sushi.  I thought I was doing the right thing:  instead of annually purchasing 20 pounds of our personal favorite Halloween chocolate bars (knowing full well no child has trick-or-treated on our street in half a decade), I decided to buy nothing.  Sugar is not good for myeloma or menopause -- the two things my household caters to these days -- so we called another couple (also sans trick-or-treaters) and asked them to pick the restaurant.

Halloween fell on a Wednesday this year, and this couple explained that for months now, they have indulged in Mai Tai Wednesdays at a wonderful Asian Fusion place the next town over. 

It didn’t take long for the Mai Tai to lend itself to words I never thought I’d speak.

 “Can I try a piece of your sushi?  Maybe this ricey one right here with wasabi and ginger soy and OH MY GAWD LET’S SUPER-SIZE THIS PLATTER. Get me the menu … BRING ME THE CHEF … AND MY DEBIT CARD, NOW!”

The next day, the 36-tuna-roll-hangover could not stop me from obsessing over my next sushi hookup.

Such is the nature of addiction.

In fact, I instantly reconnected with friends I had not seen in more than 15 months.  “I miss you! Let’s do lunch!  Dinner – snacks. I know a place.”

Without a proper income, it was the McNugget Hell all over.

But in the same way that I was able to divert my attention from Halloween “Leftovers” by distracting us with something new … I was able to go cold turkey (or cold sushi).  

Although that wasn’t my intent.

I intended a few Tuesdays ago to serve a trial-run Thanksgiving turkey using a stuffing recipe that included smoked oysters.  It was so rocket-fuel-tasting awful that I bundled up the meal, tossed on extra eyeliner and spirited my spouse back to Sushi Hut.

(You realize the trial run Thanksgiving meal was perfectly fine.  Such are the lies addicts tell…)

Returning to that sushi menu was like going home: it made me salivate and tap my foot ... like a happy dog wagging its tail.

I was rehearsing my instructions for rolling my Sushi inside out, so the rice is on the OUTSIDE of my spicy yellow-tail rolls... and was ALMOST ready to inquire about something called eel sauce when the server appeared out of nowhere, so I inhaled to deliver my Request Speech.

I didn't even eek out a partial syllable.

She was a psychic server (or else she saw the drool on the open page of The Dragon Tail with eel sauce).

"There is no Sushi on Mondays and Tuesdays."

Speechless.

 -- after all that rehearsing --

"I cannot accept that," was all I eventually mustered, so she calmly repeated that there is --  no  --  sushi.

I would have none of her broken-record routine. I sent her away so I could begin my search afresh, but she would not be dismissed so readily.  She inquired, with sincerity, whether we wanted to order drinks.

I had chosen the first half of November to engage in physical fitness and alcohol abstinence, to prepare my liver and hormones for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But the denial of sushi … the rage?

I ordered a Sake-Tini: sake, absolut, vermouth.  Big Glass.  Chilled. Yum.

By the time the server returned for my non-sushi order, my mood was markedly improved.

"I see," I said, smiling up at her, "that your menu offers nothing in the way of anything that I want."

 I motioned that she should take my spouse’s order and I closed the menu and morbidly fondled my Sake-Tini.

She took his order for something with a number, then regarded me closely. After a pause, she said, "You know, we can PREPARE for you anything that you like."

Well, this was good news.  I told her I wanted sushi.

Then I began randomly calling out ingredients, and she kept PACE with me, with pen and a completely separate order pad. I think she moonlights as a court stenographer.

"Green pepper, garlic, onion, celery, string beans, in a white wine sauce with Ponzu, SPICY ZECHAUN-HOT with SHRIMP. And no carbs … no noodle." 

"Thank you," she said, and returned later with THE MOST delicious entree... I have ever consumed.  It was genius.  Next to sushi, the nameless entrée was, and I quote myself, “THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAVE EVER CONSUMED,” but I’ve lately been saying that a lot.  

We are going again on Non-Sushi Nights, of which there are several each week, to capture the talents of our Dictation-Steno Server and Their Direction-Following Chef.  

I have not hit bottom yet; but I am practicing really hard, getting to the bottom of those sushi-platters and hot-shrimp entrée bowls at increasingly lightning-speeds. 

... and you KNOW I’ll keep you posted …