Hosting a cocktail party is always more challenging than you thought it would be. Deciding what drinks to serve, how to serve them, what glasses to use, how many options you should have, and finally what food should accompany the drinks is more stressful, time-consuming, and expensive than you ever imagined. Perhaps this is why cocktail party appetizers are often (but not always) such a disappointment, normally bought from the supermarket at the last minute and served as a slightly embarrassing after-thought.
The worst party appetizer definitely stems from this category of store-bought and forgotten until the very last minute: supermarket sushi. Here are just a few of the many reasons you should never offer platters of this popular Japanese dish.
First, there is the issue of how to eat it. If you use your fingers, you’re going to smell like raw fish, seaweed, and soy sauce for the rest of the evening, which isn’t exactly pleasant. If you provide forks, then people will be eating sushi with a fork, which is obviously unacceptable. If you provide chopsticks, your guest will be faced with the challenge of picking up a piece of sushi and transporting it to their mouth with chopsticks, which will, we imagine, end up with plenty of sushi on the floor. No guest wants to make a fool of him or herself by dropping their sushi, and no host want sticky sushi rice, raw fish, and splashes of wasabi covering their home.
Second, there is the challenge of how to serve it. As this is store-bought sushi we’re talking about, your guests are going to want to dip it in soy sauce, add a dab of wasabi, and maybe even place some pickled ginger on top to add some flavor to the low-quality food. If you’re not sitting down with well-controlled chopsticks skills, this is impossible; multitasking is hard enough at a party what with holding a drink, making small-talk, and managing without a plate. Your guests will either have to put up with tasteless sushi, or will run the risk of smashing sushi all over the serving plate and the floor, dripping soy sauce down their front, and taking a tablespoon of wasabi rather than just a dab.
Third, although sushi is intended to be eaten in one mouthful, it makes a big mouthful, which, as we all know from experience, is the biggest mistake to make with cocktail party appetizers. You can’t bite it in half, as the rest will collapse into your hand or onto your shoes, but eating it in one mouthful is going to require a long pause in conversation and some rather unattractive chewing and facial expressions in front of the strangers you’re talking to.
But more importantly than all of the impractical, impolite, logistical issues that arise with trying to eat sushi at a cocktail party is the fact that eating store-bought sushi that has been sitting out for a few hours is fairly likely to make you ill. Nothing is less appetizing than day-old, dried-out sushi, covered in the soy drippings, rice grains, and finger prints the other guests have left on the remaining pieces.