8 votes ‘Jiro’ and the impossible dream of authenticity Posted August 31 by AugustusFerdinand Tags: documentaries, netflix, japan, jiro dreams of sushi, chefs.celebrity, jiro ono, author.bettina makalintal https://www.eater.com/pop-culture/23327868/jiro-ono-restaurant-jiro-dreams-of-sushi-authentic Link information This data is scraped automatically and may be incorrect. Title Jiro Dreamt of Sushi and Awoke to an 'Authentic' Nightmare Authors Bettina Makalintal Published Aug 30 2022 Word count 1579 words 6 comments Collapse replies Expand all Comments sorted by most votes newest first order posted relevance OK  Akir August 31 Link There are a few select labels that people apply to themselves that will instantly reduce my oppinion of them as people. Food Snob is one of them. I put them in the same categories as audiophiles... There are a few select labels that people apply to themselves that will instantly reduce my oppinion of them as people. Food Snob is one of them. I put them in the same categories as audiophiles because they are guilty of the same patterns of behaviour; they take things that are commonplace, popular, and mundane, and then say that everyone's doing it wrong and that anything less than some absurdly convoluted or expensive standard is garbage. The thing that made Jiro's sushi great wasn't his adherance to tradition, and it certainly was not because he was trying to revive some kind of ancient truth behind the art of the cuisine. What made his sushi great was that he took great pains to ensure the highest possible quality in every single step of the process. The irony here is that it's actually the opposite of authenticity - the types of sushi that Jiro makes were originally designed to be a kind of convenience food. It is a finger food, after all. It turns out that real authenticity isn't terribly difficult to come by. I know that I'm fairly lucky in this regards, but if I want sushi I'm probably going to go to a local Kura Sushi. This just so happens to be the same Kura Sushi that is one of the major sushi chains in Japan. And while, sure, it may be overpriced - it's something like $3-4 per plate compared to the 110-220 yen they usually go for in Japan - it's the same exact food you can get in their Japanese restaurants. And if I don't want that, there's a bunch of other places that sell the exact same kinds of sushi that Kura sells. Now I could understand complaining about authenticity if we were talking about changing a recipe, especially if it's to swap out something you can't easily get in the country you're in. Spending a bit more to go to a place that will import those ingredients can easily be worth the cost if you are really seeking that specific flavor. But by all means don't discount food as being "inauthentic" when the only problem with it is that it's not as expensive as you would arbitrarily like it to be. If that's the case, there's nothing wrong the food; you are the problem. 11 votes  HotPants September 1 Link Parent The article also casually skims over the fact that Jiro innovated on tradition. Which also isn't exactly authentic. I think the author might have confused passion with authenticity? Jiro wasn't so... The irony here is that it's actually the opposite of authenticity - the types of sushi that Jiro makes were originally designed to be a kind of convenience food. It is a finger food, after all. The article also casually skims over the fact that Jiro innovated on tradition. Which also isn't exactly authentic. I think the author might have confused passion with authenticity? Jiro wasn't so much authentic as passionate about perfection. Which meant to eat at his establishment, you had to schedule in advance, and eat whatever Jiro put before you. Personally, I often prefer inauthentic food. Sideways had a great line "I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot." People bought less Merlot for a few years after that. People's passions are fickle. If there was a passion for authenticity, I am not surprised it went by the by. 5 votes Akir September 1 Link Parent IMHO authenticity is highly overrated when it comes to food. It's good when it means adding an imported ingredient that changes the flavor. But every other usage seems to be wasteful in one way or... Personally, I often prefer inauthentic food. IMHO authenticity is highly overrated when it comes to food. It's good when it means adding an imported ingredient that changes the flavor. But every other usage seems to be wasteful in one way or another. For instance, using traditional tools and preparation methods instead of new ones makes food more expensive to produce, but you generally don't get much value out of it (in most but not all cases). And in other cases you simply may not enjoy the authentic version as much as you like the localized versions. Sometimes you want the pizza flavored hot pockets more than you want the real pizza. Beyond that, cooking is a science as much as it is an art, and improvements in technology have made some dishes more or less obsolete. You probably wouldn't want to make an authentic Potted Beef in this day and age. 2 votes EgoEimi September 1 Link This part leapt out to me: Mm... I think it's not correct (or at least wholly correct) to examine this phenomenon through the lens of immigrant class hierarchy, and I want to contest this as a... This part leapt out to me: This point highlights the unfair dichotomy in how American diners tend to combine the terms “authentic” and “ethnic.” The “authentic” Japanese food is the expensive kind made by chefs like Ono, while to many diners, the “authentic” Chinese or Mexican food is that which is cheap and hole-in-the-wall. This “hierarchy of taste,” in which Japanese food is seen as more “elite” and able to demand prices closer to French and American cuisine than those of other Asian cultures, is the result of class hierarchy among immigrant groups in the U.S., according to author and professor Krishnendu Ray. Mm... I think it's not correct (or at least wholly correct) to examine this phenomenon through the lens of immigrant class hierarchy, and I want to contest this as a Taiwanese/Chinese American who's supposedly lower in the immigrant class hierarchy or whatever. There's a history of Japanese culture being imported into the West in the 1800s and 1900s. Its aesthetic qualities appealed to Western sensibilities in a way that other cultures' aesthetic qualities did not. Its qualities of organicism and minimalism found a passionate audience among Western cultural elites and tastemakers in a time when they sought to turn away from the frilly and stale traditions of past as well as the inhumanness and excess of industry and instead toward ideals of nature and humanistic modernism. So, preceding mass Asian immigration and the proliferation of Asian cultural presence in the US, Japanese culture was already embedded and enshrined in Western high culture — and continues to shape it. Steve Jobs was a notable student of Zen Buddhism which influenced his ideas about minimalism. Japanese kaiseki pretty much laid the basic presentation and serving format of haute cuisine. When Asian immigration did kick off in the 1960s, there were fewer than a half million Asians in the US then. There's never been mass migration of Japanese into the US — even today they are one of the smallest Asian-American ethnic groups. But they were largely in the western US and worked in or adjacent to agriculture. There was a big influx of Chinese immigrants—many uneducated—who did spread out across the country and settled down in both big cities and tiny rural towns. Prior to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese were largely relegated to working either in laundromats or restaurants. Afterward, Chinese immigrant networks and associations provided the business infrastructure and know-how to start Chinese restaurants for enterprising immigrants — regardless of their cooking talents. It's not a coincidence that many Chinese restaurants feel similar: they share many of the same suppliers for certain ingredients, marketing material, and interior furnishings. There isn't a parallel Japanese phenomenon. Anyway, a ton of not-very-good Chinese restaurants have sprung up across America. They've crafted their menus to tailor to American palates. They're meant to sell cheap, tasty eats to their local, largely non-Asian communities. They've been a vehicle of upward social mobility for a generation of Chinese-Americans. But they've also served as unofficial cultural embassies and promoted the idea that Chinese food is cheap takeout. Also, a lot of enterprising Chinese immigrants capitalize on the premium perception of Japanese cuisine by opening up mediocre sushi restaurants. My family went to a sushi restaurant in central Illinois on a road stop. On a whim, my mom struck up a conversation with the waitress in Mandarin and learned that the waitress and everyone who ran the restaurant were Chinese — and so were the owners. But they would pretend to be Japanese to people who didn't know any better. 😉 4 votes HotPants September 1 Link I don't remember that at all. How could the director not include that in the documentary? Director: ‘Can you put that piece of sushi down again?’ Jiro: ‘No, that’s not the same piece of sushi. The sushi has passed its prime. The color and texture of it have now changed because it has already been served.’ I don't remember that at all. How could the director not include that in the documentary? 1 vote AugustusFerdinand (OP) August 31 Link When “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” hit Netflix 10 years ago, Jiro Ono’s approach was fetishized as the pinnacle of “authenticity.” Looking back now, though, what did that really mean?