By Danny Fantom
It is New Years Eve in South Florida, and there’s far too many (pricey) things to do. Precisely why I sit at home, the tepid night suspiciously quiet, for now. Dad’s preparing a pot of the traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens, Mom’s likely trying to find the party in Key West (spoiler alert: she won’t, it’s the off season which means naught but old fishermen and red-cheeked retirees), and I’m waiting for my buy one get one free sushi.
A New Years livestream from Times Square was playing on the TV courtesy of Youtube, Jonathan Bennett and Jeremy Vaughan doing their best to keep the show smooth despite its awkward pauses and spotty audio quality. My father and I watch them, drinking in the hundreds of faces and live experiences. We tut at each other over the lack of masks, and people’s declarations that they’d been waiting in their spots from noon. So many faces to see, and stories being shared! We particularly like those that came from countries we don’t often hear about, and those from Miami. My father goes outside to smoke, and I stay perched on the sofa, watching and waiting for the sound of fireworks and bullets. When my food comes, I give a happy greeting and well wish to the delivery man, and quietly think that I’d have liked to give him more than a 25% tip.
The first bite of sushi is so delicious, and each roll’s crunchy crown of fried lotus delights me. I’d never had lotus before- and to try it today, on the eve of a new year, only makes the taste better. We’ve brought the dog in- Max- anticipating the fireworks soon to erupt and destroy the golden pup’s serenity. He’s pretty and spoiled, and expects a piece of the food I’m bringing to my own mouth, paws tiptoeing closer until his shoulders dig into my thigh. The love filling those gold eyes is enough to gorge on, and a quick Google search tells me he’s safe to eat the thin, crunchy lotus slice. As midnight, and the new calendar year, inches closer, I think about last New Year’s Eve; my half packed apartment, quiet and trying not to be sullen on an air mattress in the living room, nursing a bottle of sparkling red wine . . . I don’t remember what I had eaten that day, that evening- likely something quick, cheap, obviously unremarkable for the occasion. It wasn’t a particularly kind celebration for myself or the new year, and I ponder on how much better I feel now; the tiny dollop of wasabi I spread along my tongue burns my nostrils like fire, as it burns away the sadness of that memory.
My chopsticks dance alongside and in between the Viva Las Vegas Roll- seaweed, rice, “krab”, cream cheese, spicy tuna and krab mixed topping, tempura battered, and each roll crowned with sliced lotus root. Can’t forget the eel sauce.
Sushi is mostly associated with Japan, but it’s traced back to an ancient Chinese dish called narezushi. There, rice is the link between heaven and earth, Gods and Men. It is a staple dish, something to feed all, and a bounteous crop. It is popular, dependable, and simply delicious.
In Japan, Nori wasn’t so common before the Edo period, and so was reserved for nobility. Lotus root, or renkon, is eaten for good luck. With each roll I eat from the first takeout container, I imagine shining, translucent orbs colored deep orange and hazy lavender journeying from my gut to my heart. Each melts into a different ventricle, and imbues my blood with fortune, stability, and abundance.
Sushi, I tell my dad, is just the best thing ever. And, perhaps, maybe the perfect dish for the New Year? I give Max one more lotus slice for good luck.
2022 dies peacefully, and 2023 is born into a room of hope.
Danny Fantom is a writer living in the Godless void of Florida, with a personality made up mostly of Halloween and some space set aside for pop culture references. She has work published in The Daily Drunk Magazine, Rejection Letters, and Defunct Magazine, with more on Vocal. You can find her on Twitter @ThrillandFear retweeting horror movie GIFs, and pictures of desserts, sunsets, and the moon.