“Sushi tonight!” That might be a good idea, but it wouldn’t be such a big deal lots of places I know where kosher sushi is there for the asking. Not in Jerusalem or thereabouts; there’s even a branch of Sushi Rehavia right here in Ma’ale Adumim. Not in Tel Aviv. When Tina and David lived on Ibn Gabirol St., we used to walk across Nordau to Nini Hachi, one of the finest kosher restaurants in Israel. Even when we were living in The Exile, sushi was easy to come by, at least in Teaneck. My sense is that if you are more than an hour’s drive from some kosher sashimi or a plate of pad thai, something is radically wrong.
But there we were, sailing the ocean blue on the Costa Diadema. Sure, we had kosher food, three square meals every day; four if you add in the Tea Room, served at 4PM, just in case you couldn’t wait until dinner to pig out. But sushi? The thing is that one of the many additional specialty places to eat on this enormous ship just happened to be a sushi bar.
Now David London, the executive director of the AACI, was in charge of our contingent, and he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t take “No” for an answer. A lesser mortal, after hearing three or four times from the kosher caterer that he could not kasher the sushi bar, would have given up. I don’t know what David did or said or wheedled or pleaded, but all of a sudden he was told it could be done. And it would be done, so that on Thursday, after our excursion to the archaeological site of Su Nuraxi, the Casdens, The Levines, and the rest of the gang could drag our weary bones to this formerly off-limits eating establishment for some good old Japanese food.
We were first served some soup and some sushi, and, lest there even be a question, Barbara Levine did order a bottle of the same kosher plonk that we had been drinking the last several days.
And then came the highlight of the evening. In most Japanese restaurants, the chefs work in semi-anonymity. At Nini Hachi, for example, you can watch the guys rolling the sushi. Interesting, yes; but not exciting. The chefs on the ship, however, must have been finalists on a culinary talent show. Watching them make fried rice was worth the price of admission (actually, there wasn’t any price of admission, but we’ll put that aside for now).
Sitting to my left was Richard Levine (who is a confirmed sushiphobe, but a lover of fried rice). There he was with his iPhone, taking a video of our chef at work so that he could recreate the recipe back home in Har Halutz. Not to be outdone, I took out my iPhone and took some photos. One image I didn’t manage to capture was our man tossing raw eggs into the air, right into his chef’s hat. I can’t imagine how many eggs he must have broken mastering that trick, but he was spot on that night. It takes a certain feeling of confidence to try that in public. Talk about having egg on your face……
We did finally get to eat some of our chef’s creation, and it was worth the wait. Linger we couldn’t; the second shift of hungry AACI’ers was waiting its turn to snarf some sushi. The night being young, there was certainly time for a cup of green tea or some other beverage in our favorite spot, the bar at the back of the ship on deck five. The others would eventually head over to the show in the main theater, while I would return to our cabin, there to read my book for a while on our very own balcony. Get to bed early, for tomorrow we’ll be in Rome!