It’s very common for Greeks to talk about food. It’s a big part of their lifestyle to prepare enormous and highly complex meals for friends, family members or even just for themselves, something very fancy and not at all quick, for the wife or husband. As a Greek myself, I recognise the magic of good food, but I find the less complicated flavours, the less spicy dishes and simple meals to entail the purest of taste. And this is why I’m a passionate sushi lover. Small bites of food that hide huge secrets. Secrets that produce this little Japanese treasure and that are now revealed in David Gleb’s latest documentary titled Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
It’s a real story about a tiny sushi bar, “Sukiyabashi Jiro”, in the Japanese metro, which can only serve 10 customers at a time and which is run by 85-year-old sushi master chef, Jiro Ono. Mr. Jiro Ono has been perfecting his sushi technique for the last seventy-five years and has been awarded three Michelin Stars — a very rare recognition for a specialised menu such as his. That’s why if you want to eat at his place, you must book three months in advance and even when you get there, you will need to pay 300€ for just 20 pieces of freshly made sushi.
No ordering. No menu. Jiro decides what you eat. Depending on what he feels like making and on the ingredients that were available in the market on that special day that you chose to visit his place.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi allows its audience to discover all the chef’s little secrets — how the ingredients are chosen, how the menu is put together, how all the sushi is prepared. His very special technique includes also a fish massage, since the chef strongly believes that massaging the fish helps its meat acquire a fuller and stronger taste. His beliefs and rules are strict, and he takes no shit from his customers. He demands respect for what he’s creating and expects his guests to finish all their sushi pieces before they can express an opinion. He hates everything about the fast-food culture and appreciates all those who follow the food protocol properly and show enough respect towards its creator as to sit back and enjoy the true taste of each dish. He closely observes each customer, every bite they take, every reaction.
After he has seen the reaction he’s been hoping for, Mr. Jiro turns into a kind and hospitable man whose passion for the art of sushi is much more than any of us could ever understand.
Although the movie isn’t extraordinary as it features a rather simple and predictable screenplay, its value is truly immense. The viewer achieves the deepest and most meaningful connection possible with the sushi master and is given a glimpse into the sushi industry, its newest generation, its conflict with the previous one, its place in the history of an extremely interesting country and culture.