What makes a certain food the newest star? It is
hard to say but I am convinced that Yuzu is the
newest star of the culinary food world. I cannot
escape its presence. Not that I'm trying. It beams
out at us daily from the menus of America in the
same way George Clooney and Brad Pitt and Jennifer
Aniston do from the pages of magazines and newspapers.
It bares its midriff as often as Jennifer Lopez
and with nearly the buzz. But the buzz of Yuzu is
citrus not sex. None-the-less...bring it on.
The straightforward definition of Yuzu is that "It
is the tangerine-size variety of citron, a species
of citrus fruit with a thick, bumpy rind. Like lemon,
it is valued for its rind, which has a pleasant
tart and bitter flavor, as well as for its juice."
Yet there must be more...
Is there something to its name that makes us so
mad for it? The rhyming ability is pleasant to our
ears. "You-zoo". Like "Lee-Chee", (lychee). Like
"Guah-Vah", (guava). Like "Foo-Foo", (fufú).
These words speak to us with Dr. Seuss-like charm
and tickle our middle ear.
Is there an ancient mystery that beckons us from
its Far Eastern lineage? We may have first encountered
it in the hallowed corridors of a Japanese Temple.
There its pedigree would be confirmed; star power
assured. A geisha holding her guests in a just squeezed
Yet to taste yuzu's juice for the first time, untamed,
would be like walking in on Brando (with no foreknowledge
of his artful pretending), at the instant he ripped
off his T-shirt and screamed "STELLA!" It
rips into your tasting gallery with a brute resurrection
of power primordial.
I've seen her in Detroit where she was on the arm
of an Italian Balsamic prince. I've seen her at
the new "Sirena" restaurant on South Beach, where
her irresistible songs warmed the underbelly of
a tuna's raw curves. I've consumed her and she enchanted
me at home, though I plied her with honey and truffles
and placed her underneath the zaftig opulence of
a duck's breast first.
Are you star-struck like me?
Im Norman Van Aken and
thats my word on food.
consulted: The Japanese Kitchen, Hiroko
Shimbo, Harvard Common Press 2000
Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2001