I kept wondering just that as we tuicked in our sushi buffet in Sushi Factory, Las Vegas. On the one hand, eating fresh fish in the midst of a desert where people are by no means supposed to leave is good enough a reason to celebrate and be grateful. Generous portions, with robust chunks of expertly cut neta, on very smallish balls of correctly cooked rice - usually, the opposite is the norm. One portion fo a roll amounts to a light European lunch. Two dozen oysters included in our 36-dollar bill for two. Swoon. Cross your heart and hope to die.
You'd think just that, now wouldn't you? So did we. First. Until we started eating. Hmm, it surely looked like a lot of very good fish and shellfish. But it tasted like none. Like nothing in fact. Or, perhaps, something along the damp tissue paper line. Whether it is down to Nevada's Health & Safety regulations or because the fish and seafood is farmed, I don't know. It seems the case with most of food in the USA. Cheap and abundant, produced on factory farms in industrial quantities, with the help of fertilizers, hormones, herbicides, antibiotics, genetic modification and who knows what else, it seems it only acquires its taste from the salt, sugar and fat added later. Because that's all you can taste when you eat it.
The same dinner in Europe would set you back three times as much, but that's because EU regulations ban all that funky chemical and biotechnological crap as well as provide for pension plans, health care and social security for every waiter and kitchen hand. In the USA, in states like Texas, the minimum wages of tipped labour is around 2.50 dollars an hour. They bend over backwards for the tips not because they are firendly and happy but because they need the money to pay for their trailer.
The appearances are deceptive. So much the more on the Stateside. The smiles and the huge portions have little to none substance. 'More, more and more', like Madonna used to sing won't necessarily get you 'better, better and better'. After a certain point, the substance gets hollowed out and you are left with a better looking simulacrum of reality, which nonetheless stays a mere likeness of what it is supposed to be. Pure Baudrillard and his four stages of simulation.
Pro's: Oodles of fresh fish and seafood in the midst of a desert. Great presentation. Friendly service.
Con's: Tackiest possible interior. Food with little to none taste.
In a nutshell: Japanese food somewhere between the 3rd ad 4th stage of Baudrillard's simulacrum.