When Out of Control Is the Best Control
There’s an order to sushi that has always appealed to the control freak in me. The ideal proportion of fluffy rice; the little dab of wasabi in just the right place; the dash of rice vinegar to hold it all together from soy sauce to my mouth; the cool tenderness of the fish – all of it happens in a uniquely controlled environment that takes years to master. In Japan, some trained sushi chefs spend a year or more just making the rice, nothing else.
Control is a big deal for lots of people: control of friendships; control of career; control of destiny; control of the remote; control of the steering wheel; control of life. Control used to be an issue for me, too, chasing a thousand directions at once just to feel “in control” of the various situations in my orbit.
At my apex, I’d never felt so out of control, careening from disaster to disaster in an effort to stave off the ultimate “bad thing” that I was trying to control out of my life. Control in life is a twisted joke, something that can be annihilated in one trip on the stairs, one grumpy phone call gone awry, or one unfortunate e-mail where “Send” was selected instead of “Delete.”
Sushi is one of those things most people want to control, perusing the menu and selecting the mixture of rolls and pieces that engage and ultimately sate the palate. In Japan, that isn’t how it’s done, though. The chef decides what the diner gets in every course, knowing what fish is the freshest, the most delectable of the day. It’s called omakase, and there is no control.
I knew I’d conquered my control fetish when I ordered sushi at Anzu over the weekend. I scanned the menu and then looked up at the chef and asked for the surprise sushi, a combination of whatever he wanted to make for us. It was obvious that he didn’t often get that request, and he set out to impress, serving up a tasty tuna and seaweed salad; one of the most beautiful rolls I’ve ever seen; orgiastic pieces of nigiri; ball sushi, something I’d never, ever tried; and a seaweed bouquet that was heavenly. I’m convinced omakase is the only way to have sushi for the remainder of my life.
Control, whether it’s in life or in sushi, is overrated. Sometimes, it’s best to just let go and experience life, even if the experience goes something like the video below.
(Note: Anzu did not pay me anything or give me anything free to write this post. I thought it was great, and I’m happy to write about my experience here for nothing.)