“Presently, I felt human again, and nodded to the nearest chef: “Sushi,” I commanded, “and lots of it!” The chef busied himself immediately with fish, rice and a large press, and the sous-chef placed before me a small tray with pickled ginger and a green mound of wasabe paste. I looked around for a pair of chopsticks. There were none with my place setting. I looked up and there before me was the sushi-chef’s hand, holding two perfectly formed rice lozenges topped with exquisitely cut domino-like pieces of hamachi. The chef placed the sushi on my tray, and watched me intently. Somehow I knew: I was being tested.”
“Always remember: Edo style sushi should be eaten with your fingers, in one or two bites. Gaijin often make the mistake of using chopsticks. If you are undercover, a mistake like that can be fatal….
I didn’t stop to ponder how I knew this, where the voice inside my head was coming from. There was no time. I lifted one of the lozenges gingerly, dipped an edge of the fish in the soy sauce, and consumed it in two bites. I then repeated the process with the second piece. The chef narrowed his eyes and hissed, “You have learned well. But we shall see…” He busied himself again, and quickly placed before me a perfectly pressed slab of Kansai-style sushi, cut into eight pieces. “Oshizushi!” he bellowed.”
Catch Ivan Davidoff’s “The Spy That Ate Manhattan”
A series from eGullet’s Unauthorized Autobiographer