The sushi that knocked me out with a vicious punch, and the perils of food blogging
Yesterday, I had some takeout sushi that was so terrible that I still shudder, more than 24 hours later, thinking about it.
No it didn't make me physically sick. I did not get food poisoning. But it was bloody awful. It was sold as 'fresh' sushi (and it certainly hadn't been frozen), but it had been refrigerated for some time, for who knows how long. (It had a 'sell-by date' but not a 'made-on date'. Sushi must, must, be eaten the same day it's made.) The rice was mealy, the grains hard. The neta (the fish) on the nigiri, salmon and tuna, was mushy and utterly tasteless. The rolls, filled with cucumber and some sort of tuna mix, were no better.
To add a crowning insult, even the soy sauce included in little plastic fish shaped bottles was inedible. It smelled like thinned out Maggi Würze* with an added slightly singed aroma.
The two packs we got - 5 pieces of nigiri with 4 roll pieces, and another pack of 6 roll pieces, came out to 40 CHF in total (about USD $32). 40 francs for something utterly inedible.
Now, this is sushi that's sold in one of the major supermarkets. (Lest you wonder why in the world we even bought such a thing in the first place, I was curious, ever optimistic and prepared to be surprised positively.) I did actually take pictures of the offending sushi, and thought about plastering it here with pithy skull and crossbones signs on them or something.
Instead, we called up the customer service department of said supermarket company - the first time I've ever been compelled to do such a thing, incidentally. The lady who took the call actually listened, to give her full credit, and promised that they would investigate the matter. She also said that we would be eligible for a full refund, though that wasn't the point of making that call. I was more upset by the fact that a nation like Switzerland, that may not be familiar with how sushi should taste, is subjected to such a horrible bastardization of a food that has come to represent the cuisine of my home country. We agreed to send her a detailed letter explaining what we found wrong with the product. We'll see if anything comes out of it. I would really prefer they stopped selling such abominations altogether if they can't figure out a distribution system that allows them to sell edible sushi.
What's stopped me fron ranting specifically about said sushi product with names and all here is that it's become more and more obvious to me that, for better or worse, a few people do rely on what I say about things. It's not only me, of course: it's all bloggers who have established a regular readership. I find it easy to be positive and recommend a product that I genuinely like. I also find it easier to not recommend something online, such as a store or a web service, that people and see and check out for themselves beforehand.
Negative reviews of things like products or restaurants are something else though. This is why there aren't that many restaurant reviews here, for example. The few times I do talk about specific restaurants, especially the 'destination' type very expensive places here, they are only of places where the experience was very positive, and they have lots of photographic evidence (yep I'm one of those annoying people taking pictures of everything, though I never ever use the flash). I've been to plenty of other restaurants that I haven't talked about publicly.
Having a blog about food for more than three years has certainly changed the way I approach eating in many ways, and this is one of them. Although I don't think I'm a journalist per se, and MSM journalists will probably continue to look down on the unwashed masses of 'amateur bloggers'**, I am more aware as time goes by of how people do rely on the things I write. Whether it's trying out my recipes, or visiting a restaurant based on something I wrote, there's a certain degree of responsibility to bear, that's not to be taken lightly. It's different from talking about it to a small, private circle of friends.
I may be over-cautious and not spontaneous enough, but I'd rather be that than try to rush to condemn something, as seems to be the thing to do sometimes on blogs and forums these days.
Oh yes, and if it weren't for the sense of duty I felt to be thorough, I'd have spit out that awful sushi after the first bite instead of sampling every damned piece.
*Maggi Würze is a brown sauce that is often seen in the condiments tray of lesser restaurants in Switzerland. It's so ubiquitous that it even has a nickname, _Machi_. It has Marmite - Bovril like characteristics, but not in a positive way. And it's definitely not soy sauce.
**I've been told to my face that my words do not, should not and never will carry as much weight (as the speaker) since I am not a professional journalist by training or resumé, but that's a story for another time.