Ode to the California Roll, The Gateway Food To Sushi

The California roll is in truth the epitome of a gateway food

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Shunned forbeing uncultivated, considered by some a taste to outgrow, the California roll—an inside-out combo of avocado, crab (or, more twistedly inauthentic, faux crab), and cucumber—is in truth the epitome of a gateway food.

We have the chefs at Tokyo Kaikan, a downtown spot that leaned toward tiki, to thank for this anti-purist’s dream. In the late ’60s, seeking to familiarize their clientele with the idea of hand rolls, they crafted a slightly denatured artifact that has proved to be a stalwart and unexpectedly of the moment. Sustainability was—and still is—an issue: The substitution of a lime green Hass for tuna was a response to a shortage of (quaint thought!) seasonal bluefin. Accessibility is prized: The California roll might have underplayed its heritage—the sheet of dark green nori seems concealed inside—but it offered an entry into a tradition for many who had never peeked behind noren curtains before.

Today a lineup of cool, creamy-centered disks on a plate is the stuff of nostalgia. But like our Cobb salad or French dip, the California roll will not be relegated to memory. Instead of a corruption, it has come to represent a lean ideal we fell hard for. From the gambit offered to see if we’d bite, it has turned into the tidbit enjoyed by all.


This feature originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Los Angeles magazine

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Comments

  1. California roll

    December 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    California roll
    With great taste and covetable display, California roll is here for you. It is a sushi roll usually made inside out, containing cucumbers, crab meat and avocado. a hub of Fusion food in Japanese and western food. Here you can get food of your own choice and taste. We have for you the Sushi Roll, Rice wine and many other party foods With great test. Our outstanding services make us unique throughout the Hawthorn, California.

  2. Kahees

    February 4, 2014 at 10:03 am

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