Funazushi, a fermented food made with crucian carp, is often described as Japan's most ancient form of sushi. This article evaluates these historical claims and offers some tasting notes, exploring traditional versions of the dish and new interpretations that offer a possible future for sushi.
I could never write a global history of sushi without having eaten what has been called the most “ancient form” of sushi, the funazushi found in Shiga Prefecture (Hosking 1996: 43). So on a recent trip to Japan I set aside two days to try to eat as much funazushi as possible. This proved to be challenging for many reasons, not the least of which was the taste of funazushi, which many people find disagreeable. What I learned from the experience was less about sushi's past than a possibility for sushi's future.