The yummiest word is probably sushi. You have your just-sticky rice, your just-soft seaweed, and your just-roasted sesame seeds. Wrap this around a just-steamed hot-dog, drop the wasabi for some yellow mustard and then bring in a good dousing of ketchup. What do you have?
No, it’s not another episode of “Take that Herouxville” and no, it’s not Trudeau’s idea of multiculturalism. If it’s accommodement raisonnable, then we’re in trouble.
It’s Survival Japanese Cooking, Shié Kasai’s newfangled flavour sensation. At the M.A.I., just beyond the entrance where a sign that reads “no food or drink in the gallery” gets ironic, is some weirdness you’re not sure you want to put in your mouth. Yep, it’s a gross-out that’s gingerly rolled into an almost delicious looking little package. So, hot-dog sushi anybody? How about eggs and ham sushi? Maybe some smoked meat sashimi?
Your eyes say “oh yes,” but your stomach says “oh no.” Thank goodness you’re not given the chance to actually eat anything. Kasai’s exhibit uses many artistic mediums, none of which are tasty. The great colours of cuisine are always beautiful, be it in hot-dog pink, rice off-white or smoked-meat red.
The idea of mixing to distinctly different cuisines like this is curt, shocking, cheeky and downright dirty. It’s insulting really.
Why would she do this? Maybe the secret lies in her statement:
“One common thing missed by all people living in foreign countries would probably be their own food. I hardly eat at Japanese restaurants. They all appear foreign to me because most of the time they are Japanese-themed and operated by Canadians,” she said. “Due to the substitute ingredients used, the food I eat in Japan and the Japanese food prepared in Canada do not taste the same. I simply prefer paying for foreign dishes rather than dishes dressed as Japanese, as I can make these myself. I am lucky enough to like cooking so I usually survive wherever I live.”
Maybe this expo is akin to the immigrant experience? Breakfast sushi might be the perfect representation of becoming Canadian.
Interestingly enough, Kasai also conducted a survey on the Plateau in an attempt to pinpoint what exactly constitutes Canadian cuisine (cause we’re obviously not sure). As far as staple starches go, 36 per cent said they liked rice the best. The almighty spud only got 13 per cent of the vote. As for what item is the most uniquely Canadian, maple syrup triumphed poutine with the hot-dog a distant third.
Survival can make you hungry and make you wonder. Thoughts of multiculturalism and Canada’s own identity came into question. Perhaps maple syrup is the most symbolic and true telling of all Canadian foods. You can take the stuff and gloss over anything with sugary goodness. It can bring together almost any dish. Welcome to the land of condiments.
As for Kasai’s take on our cuisine, it’s definitely worth checking what she’s brought to the table.
Survival Japanese Cooking runs until Dec. 13 at the M.A.I., 3680 Jeanne-Mance, for free.
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