If I have a free afternoon lunch, I tend to treat myself to a nice indulgent meal of sushi, real pig out style. Today I ordered a whole plate of different kinds of sushi. And OF COURSE it came with a piece of shrimp sushi. Sigh. It’s not that I don’t like shrimp, it’s that I never know if it’s rude not to eat the tail! WHAT IS THE PROTOCOL?! There’s nothing savory about the tail, but it feels weird biting it off, leaving it on the plate so the Japanese dishwasher can look at my dirty plate in contempt, as a stupid American non-tail-eater.
I know at Chinese restaurants they stir-fry shrimp in their shells with salt, and you’re supposed to eat the shell. I know this because I ordered this as a house specialty somewhere and was served a plate of shell-in shrimp. Uh…I ate them whole because I didn’t want the ridicule of ordering something I had no idea how to eat. It was crunchy. Not in a good way. It was like…eating a shell.
Anyway, I wanted to explore the actual rules, and it turns out, after a little surfing, I’ve been pooping all over sushi protocol for years! I always dip the rice into the soy sauce. I thought that was the polite way to do it. No, idiot, NEVER DO THAT! This post I found is most adamant about this, although the analogy with putting ketchup only on the burger and never the bun made me feel like, “Wow, I don’t know how to eat a burger either.” 🙂
Also you’re never supposed to put the wasabi INTO the soysauce, which I do frequently and on and on. One interesting fact is, “Never pass food to another person using chopsticks as this is too close symbolically to the passing of a deceased relative’s bones at a traditional Japanese funeral. Pass a plate instead allowing an individual to take food themselves.” Gah, I think that’s one rule I can remember.