You know it’s a good meal when you’ve been thinking about it all week and, when you finally get round to eating it, you’re still excited about the prospect of it.
This non-dissipation of excitement must be the perfect version of any meal.
We sat in the perfectly adequate sushi restaurant in Oxfordshire and, while polishing off the first round of dragon rolls, spicy tuna maki, spider rolls and grilled eel nigiri, T swings his head sideways round to me and says:
I am no less excited about sushi now that I am eating it
Which is surely the definition of food bliss?
I’d spent all week watching interviews with sushi chefs, tours of very nice sushi bars, and sushi making demonstrations on YouTube. If you’ve decided to write a novel in which a character has this profession, it’s your first port of call.
Watching serious, dedicated people cut up beautiful flesh into lovely sliver’d jewels builds up an appetite.
It’s rare for a food craving to be sustained through the process of eating the food. Usually, when you crave a burger — or fish-sauce marinated chicken with sriracha, mayo and shredded lettuce in a brioche (for example) — you’re met with the slight disappointment of feeling gross, guilty or lazy afterwards.
But maybe because I’m old and now crave fresh, clean things — and sushi doesn’t slow you down at all — you only feel your love for it grow during the meal.
We carried on to the next round — grilled eel temaki, tuna sashimi, tobiko, omlette, a rainbow roll — and the joy didn’t leave. We took some home too. To eat in the garden, in the sun, with a cold beer and the bubbling, chaotic noises of families in other gardens arguing about starting the barbeque breaching over the gently rustling hedge-tops.
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