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SAVE OUR SUSHI


malcolmjolley
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Dear Toronto eGulleters,

I woke up this morning to read this article in the Globe.

I am absolutely livid. I think this is a call to action and the food and wine community should send a very strong and clear message to Queen's Park that we will not countenance this absurdity.

So, I am collecting an electronic petition, which I will send to Steve Peters, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, as well as the Premier's Office. If you would like to be part of this petition, please email your full name and postal address* to sushi@gremolata.com.

I have also put up a web notice at the food and wine site I am currently developing: www.gremolata.com, if you would like to use this as a way of spreading the word. (I am a little embarrassed to announce gremolata.com in this way. I had planned on a shamefully self-serving eGullet post closer to launch next month, but I feel like I should use this tool now to get rid of this insane law.)

Yours,

Malcolm

malcolm@gremolata.com

* You have my absolute word that I will only use this information for the purposes of this petition. If you visit www.gremolata.com/privacy.htm you'll see that I back this up by providing my own personal email address and cell phone number as a kind of anti-spam collateral.

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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I'm no lover of sushi, but that's friggin' crazy.

I mean, c'mon...there've been cases of e. coli and other food-borne illness being carried by salad greens and scallions. Are they going to demand that we blanch our lettuces?

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I'm not sure what the big deal is. Virtually all sushi served in the United States is frozen before serving. Even the top restaurants such as Masa, Morimoto and Nobu do it. Its flash frozen in special 60 degree below zero superfreezers which kills the bacteria and bugs instantly, and it doesnt impact the flavor or texture of the fish.

We discussed this on the site on an earlier thread, in response to a NY Times article:

I Guess I Like Frozen Sushi

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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It's the imposition on the freedom of grown up chefs and their customers that really annoys me, whether 95% of sushi is frozen (or ought to be) or not. Frankly I think it's enough that one of Toronto's top sushi chef objects:

Chefs who specialize in the demanding arts of sushi and sashimi are equally perplexed. "This is a huge headache for me," says Hiro Yoshida of Hiro Sushi in Toronto's St. Lawrence neighbourhood. "I don't want to serve frozen fish to my customers. They come to my restaurant specifically for fresh fish."

Mr. Yoshida looks at the display case in front of his popular sushi bar and rhymes off the fresh fish that will be affected by the new regulation -- salmon, sardine, Spanish mackerel, horse mackerel, fluke, Nova Scotia sea urchin. "There's no way you can freeze sea urchin," he says. "When you defrost it, it just melts away."

And as Fat Guy points out in the April thread on U.S. fish freezing:

The article also conveniently skips over the rampant lawbreaking that occurs at the top sushi places.

I imagine this law will merely make outlaws of our better chefs, which is enough reason to repeal it.

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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The rage continues...

A petitioner wrote this in his email this morning, which I thought "Swiftly" summed it up:

This is outrageous. The simpler way for the government to handle this issue is to ban Japanese food altogether, and while you are at it ban the best food served in all of the best restaurants in Toronto. Why stop there? Why not ban all fresh fish being sold in our markets.  In fact, why not just ban all things fresh altogether? There is all sorts of fresh beef that could be banned, and also fresh vegetables that might be less dangerous if we ensured they were frozen for 2 weeks prior to selling to the public.

- GR, The Beach

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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I recall a similarly paranoid proposal from Health Canada several years ago concerning raw milk cheeses. I wrote a passionate letter to the Minister confessing that such cheeses were my sustaining vice. I suggested that if smokers are allowed to emperil their health by smoking, I should be allowed to take the grave risk of ingesting my favourite, stinky, bacteria-laden cheeses. I thought that stark labelling ("This cheese can kill you") and cheese-eating sections in restaurants would adequately inform the public, while preserving individual liberties. The proposal was abandoned, as far as I can tell.

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The struggle for fresh sushi is starting to pick up some more media, which is great!

Stories that ran yesterday...

CTV - looks like it's getting picked up out of Ottawa):

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/stor..._20/?hub=Canada

CBC (Web only, I think):

http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2..._ont040928.html

CFRA ( Ottawa Talk Radio):

http://www.cfra.com/headlines/index.asp?cat=2&nid=20036

There are more developments in the air - will update later today...

Oops! I just picked the Star and saw this, too:

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentSe...ol=968793972154

Edited by malcolmjolley (log)

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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Looks like complaining DOES work.

According to various media sources this morning, despite the responsible ministry claiming it was not going to change on LAST night's news:

The Ontario Government is reportedly backing away from strict new bans on the use of fresh raw fish in sushi.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health says the rules could be loosened if other ways can be found to warn diners of the potential dangers of eating raw fish.

Under new rules that took effect at the start of September, sushi and other raw fish had to first be deep frozen to kill potential parasites, then thawed.

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I am a big sushi fan, and when I am not making it myself I am a regular at the local suchi bar in Belleville as well as a few others in Ottawa, Kingston, and Toronto. I am very upset about this.

I called my local MPP, Ernie Parsons, and I encourage all of you to contact your local MPP and complain as well.

-- Jason

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"I'm not sure what the big deal is. Virtually all sushi served in the United States is frozen before serving. Even the top restaurants such as Masa, Morimoto and Nobu do it. Its flash frozen in special 60 degree below zero superfreezers which kills the bacteria and bugs instantly, and it doesnt impact the flavor or texture of the fish."

If the Ontario rule for pre-frozen sushi and sashimi holds, there will be a strong impetus to serve frozen, not flash frozen -60 fish, when it is convenient. I stopped buying frozen fish at the the supermart years ago, because the flavour, terxture, appearance, and scent were nowhere near that of fresh cooked fish.

The Ontario regulation does not require fish or shellfish to be flash frozen, at -60., so why should the neighborhood sushi restaurant bother with this?

This morning, our health minister, Geo. Smitherman, says he is willing to moderate or amend the fish freeze regulation; there seems to be some apology that the sushi purveyors were not consulted during pre-regulatory consultations...

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This is rich! The centre of the universe asking us to write to Ottawa to help with a Toronto issue. I believe that most sushi grade fish in Vancouver is flash frozen by the wholesaler. In my opinion this is a great idea. It kills the parasites that are rampant in salmon and quite possibly other species. Oh yeah while we write our letters, why don't you guys help us out with the offshore drilling ban, the highway money we never get, and even some funding for the police and fireman games. Not to mention our share of the GST.

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Um, just to be clear: this is an Ontario issue being fought by Ontarians for Ontarians. The federal government has nothing directly to do with the regulation at stake and our objective is to change the minds at Queen's Park, not Parliament Hill.

That being said we've received a number of very supportive Save Our Sushi signatories (and eGullet posts) from sushi-lovers from across Canada and even the United States and we're very grateful for the support. I think there is a generally a solidarity among food lovers wherever they live.

On this topic, the CBC has done a new story on what appears to be a mellowing on the Health Ministy's side. This is coming from the chief medical officer of health, not the minister so we're not entirely sure where the issue stands. The campaign is still on.

I'm scheduled to be interviewed this afternoon between 5 and 5:30PM on Here and Now with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio 1 about the petition and the Save Our Sushi movement. I'll let you know how it goes.

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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Um, just to be clear: this is an Ontario issue being fought by Ontarians for Ontarians. The federal government has nothing directly to do with the regulation at stake and our objective is to change the minds at Queen's Park, not Parliament Hill.

That being said we've received a number of very supportive Save Our Sushi signatories (and eGullet posts) from sushi-lovers from across Canada and even the United States and we're very grateful for the support. I think there is a generally a solidarity among food lovers wherever they live.

On this topic, the CBC has done a new story on what appears to be a mellowing on the Health Ministy's side. This is coming from the chief medical officer of health, not the minister so we're not entirely sure where the issue stands. The campaign is still on.

I'm scheduled to be interviewed this afternoon between 5 and 5:30PM on Here and Now with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio 1 about the petition and the Save Our Sushi movement. I'll let you know how it goes.

Please do. I'll try and catch the show.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Missed the show, unfortunately.

Had take away sushi for dinner too, got home late, too tired to cook. Must have been all that discussion!

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Won.What did you win?This whole thing is really the most absurb news item concerning food since Ontario's legislation on cheese.All news reports center around sushi,but I am sure you serve raw fish in other restaurants in Ontario.Who was the misinformed idiot who stated 97% of Tuna sold in grocery stores is frozen.It's held on ice-not frozen.

If government has to be so vain to think up such stupid laws,then the hell with government.We are embarrased for you in Montreal because it is so hard to get even good vegetables and meat in Ontario.(Toronto is different)

I vacation on Lake Huron in the summer and I bring most of my food with me.Your charcuterie counters with the pressed hams,macaroni salads and green olive-pimento salamis are quite amusing.

What about the sun-drenched fish in Toronto's chinatown,or the cockroach infested restaurants?Theres a newsworthy subject.

If all restaurants refuse to adhere by this new law and join forces,the person who has drawn up this legislation should be run out of town.Please do not stand for this kind of manipulation.If health boards can dictate to you in this manner,they certainlly do not have any understanding of the food world ot the cultural side of people.

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"I vacation on Lake Huron in the summer and I bring most of my food with me."

Hopefully you can venture out for local produce and fresh fish from the lake.

I drove from Goderich to Grand Bend looking for a fresh vegetable market,and the best I could find was a small bakery with some greenhouse tomato's.The fish is great,but not to be eaten every day.Grocery stores suck in South Ontario.

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